Incline Star Follies cast profile: Dr. Johanna Koch

25 Mar 2009 - 6:22am

North Lake Tahoe Bonanza, by Jean Eick

Dr. Johanna Koch, left, practices her part in the Incline Star Follies number "Dancin'" March 16 at Incline Elementary School.

Dr. Johanna Koch, left, practices her part in the Incline Star Follies number "Dancin'" March 16 at Incline Elementary School.
Bonanza Photo - Jen Schmidt

When Dr. Johanna Koch, called “Joy” by friends, became involved in the Incline Star Follies 10 years ago it was not something she decided to do on her own.

“I knew Debbe Deverill and she called me and said I would be perfect for the show. I couldn’t call her out so I succumbed,” Koch said.

Although Koch could not recall the names of the actual numbers she appeared in that first year she did recall that one of the numbers was with local businesswoman, Linda Offerdahl.

“I only remember one. I did a ‘50s number with a hula hoop,” she said. “I kept thinking oh ‘God I’m never going to live this down.’”

Koch has practiced medicine in Incline Village for 21 years and is a supporter of the local public school system because she attended public schools.

“I am a big supporter of the public schools in Incline,” Koch said. “I love the public school system and concept of public education.”

Koch’s son attended the Incline Village public schools and was in middle school when she started performing with the Follies.

“My son went to school here from fourth grade on and graduated from Incline High School,” she said. “And he got a great education. I have to commend Incline High School.”

That first year in the Follies though Koch admitted that she was terrified of doing the show. Now, after 10 years of performing Koch is very comfortable on the stage.

“The first time I was on stage I was terrified, she said. “I was the least likely to be on a stage, now I don’t even get nervous.”

With all of her performances, Koch has had the opportunity to see lots of changes and improvements.

“In the beginning it was only a fundraiser for the elementary school and only kids from the elementary school performed in the show,” Koch said.

The middle school students were added the second year and high school students the third year.

“That is the biggest change, the number of kids in the show has enlarged,” said Koch.

The number of adult cast members increased also, but not like the number of students in the show. And according to Koch, it is the students that really make the show — especially for the upcoming 2009 show.

“I have watched some of the high school stuff this year and it is incredible,” she said.

But the basics have remained the same as they were the first year.

“The Follies t-shirts and black pants are still the same,” Koch said. “But the costuming has gotten more elaborate and there is more dancing. The numbers became more complicated in a good way.”

The talent in the adult cast now is more polished Koch explained which allows for more numbers at higher levels.

“I have stayed because it is a good cause and fun,” she said. “It gets me out of my cubicle. Gets me out of my box and pulls me into a whole different thing every year.”

She was not able to remember any numbers that had been personal favorites because all have been fun for her to perform. One number, however, did stick in her mind. It was when she had to fill a last minute role and found that a little challenging.

“One year Joy Michiel was supposed to be in a number but was unable to and gave me her role at the last moment,” Koch said. “It was for a very loud and demanding preacher.”

Another year Koch was given the role as a nurse in the number “Let’s Get More Men into Nursing.”

“I was the head nurse, not the doctor, the nurse,” she laughed.

Even though each show requires many hours to learn her parts and dance steps Koch spends a lot of time memorizing lines while in the car or learning dance steps at home.

“One of the benefits is that I am more confident as a public speaker. I used to be terrified of speaking,” she said. “I am not a ham by nature.”

But along the way Koch found other benefits to being a cast member as well.

“I have gotten to know a lot of people I probably would not have,” she said. “It has been a lovely enhancement to my life.”

Koch said that being a member of the cast is the easy part compared to what other members of the Incline Star Follies do.

“Being in the show is no where near the amount of work as what Kathie Goldberg does or the fundraising committee,” she said. “This is the fun part.”

Koch stressed that many people play important roles in the Follies other than members of the cast.

“Don Hertel (director and choreographer) does his job out of love,” she said. “He spends his vacation time here.”

And the costumes are also important. Each number requires costumes which are purchased or furnished by the cast member.

“Linda Offerdahl has made our job so much easier,” she said. “It is really convenient to shop at her store and the costumes are reasonably priced. Plus sales from her shop return to the schools.”

The people in charge of the Incline Star Follies also have difficult jobs Koch said.

“Kathy Goldberg is amazing. I would hate to guess the number of hours she spends each year on Star Follies, or Ron Stichter,” she added.

Generally Koch feels that the productions have gone fairly smoothly each year. At least for her part.

“I have never had a wardrobe malfunction,” she laughed.

Does she have any plans to retire now that she has been a cast member for 10 years or will she be back next year?

“As long as the show continues and they continue to want me,” she said. “I will continue.”


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