Incline Star Follies cast profile: Dr. Vinny D'Ascoli

3 Apr 2009 - 6:19pm

North Tahoe Bonanza, by Jean Eick

Dr. Vinny D'Ascoli practices at Incline Elementary School March 16 for the big night.

Dr. Vinny D'Ascoli practices at Incline Elementary School March 16 for the big night.
Bonanza Photo - Jen Schmidt

Fifth graders Ryan Schultz, Hadyne Schuft, Vanessa Andrade and Jair  Galindo, bottom practice their parts for "Under the Sea" during rehearsal early this month.

Fifth graders Ryan Schultz, Hadyne Schuft, Vanessa Andrade and Jair Galindo, bottom practice their parts for "Under the Sea" during rehearsal early this month.
Bonana Photo- Jen Schmidt

Whether he is dancing a little soft shoe in a tuxedo or throwing bananas into the audience as a woman in “Aye Carumba,” Dr. Vinny D’Ascoli has been a character to remember through the years of the Incline Star Follies.

Many of the students that have appeared in the Follies have been to D’Ascoli’s office too. As a local orthodontist his office has been in Incline now for 27 years so many young people are familiar with D’Ascoli.

“I moved out here from Manhattan,” he said. “A professor at New York University heard about a practice in Lake Tahoe that was for sale.”

After checking out the practice and the Lake Tahoe area, he decided to move out west and has had an office ever since in Incline. He does have several other offices in the area and has even moved out of town to a ranch which requires commutes to both his office and the Follies practices.

But D’Ascoli doesn’t mind because is very proud of the Incline schools.

“My daughter went to the Incline schools from kindergarten through graduation, graduating in ‘99. She had really good teachers throughout the schools and received a great education,” he said. “She was well challenged.”

Not only is he a returning member of the cast in the 2009 Follies, but D’Ascoli was a part of the cast in the original follies back in the 80s.

“Back in the 80s, along with Dr. Tim Frasier, I did quite a few original parodies on people. The most popular were Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias.” They even performed a private show one year for a golf group from Texas.

However, when the current Follies returned to Incline 10 years ago, D’Ascoli was not part of the cast. In fact, he missed the first two years.

“Eight years ago a patient’s mom came in and said, ‘I know you were in the original Follies and hear you are a character’ and invited me to join,” D’Ascoli said.

In his eighth year in a row on stage, D’Ascoli continues to provide many moments of laughter during each Follies show.

He admits that the Follies requires a huge time commitment not just for rehearsals but learning the dance routines and words to lip-sync. With his commute, however, he has found the perfect way to listen to the CD in the car to learn the words.

“It takes a lot of effort,” he said. “The time commitment makes it hard for a lot of people.”

D’Ascoli enjoys many rewards for his time commitment. The socializing, the cast parties and even watching the videos after the show is over all make it special. For D’Ascoli though the real reward is the funds raised to help the local schools.

“I love the end result, the schools,” D’Ascoli said. “You can’t put a price on that. There is nothing more rewarding.”

Because he loves getting into the routines, he has had plenty of fun and memorable moments on stage.

“The funniest number I recall was ‘Aye Carumba,’” he said.

This was one of the cross dressing numbers performed along with another returning member of the cast, Wayne Cameron. It included throwing bananas into the audience. And yes, it does seem that most of the cross dressing numbers were sent D’Ascoli’s way.

“You can’t have an ego,” he explained about being in the cross dressing numbers.

He also admitted that it is when you are a “diva or a nurse” that you get most of the laughs in the show. But it has had some challenges for him.

“Learning to walk in size 14 red pumps was a real challenge,” he said. “I had never done anything like that before. But said I would do it for the laughs.”

The laughs are part of the reason the shows are so popular but as D’Ascoli explained the entire cast is full of talented members.

“The kids are amazing and we seem to get a better group every year,” he said. “They are focused and really good. They always crack me up.”

The noncast members that work hard behind the curtain year after year also have the admiration of D’Ascoli.

“Karen Osborne works hard with the kids. And Kathie Goldberg and Don Hertel are just fabulous,” he said.

“Every year I look forward to seeing Don,” he said. “I try to keep in touch throughout the year by e-mail.”

When Hertel arrives for the last week of rehearsals before the show, D’Ascoli explained that the entire cast knows it is time to put it all together for the shows.

One of the numbers that D’Ascoli is appearing in during the 2009 Follies has been one that he performed in before with a member of the cast that died of cancer in 2005.

“We are doing ‘Five Guys Named Moe’ which we have done before,” he said. “Every time we rehearse that number it brings back memories of Jack Cooke. He was a good man and is sorely missed. The memories are bittersweet but fun. We all share joys and pains.”

Appearing in the Cal Neva’s Frank Sinatra Showroom is another experience that D’Ascoli enjoys. It too has provided a few fond memories.

“I love the history at the Cal Neva,” he said. “One year we had a power outage, and the lights were out all over except in Frank’s office. It was spooky and we never found out why they stayed on in there. Whether they had a generator for that office or what.”

But what really keeps D’Ascoli involved in the Follies and returning to the stage is that it helps him stay connected to the community.

“I have an affinity for this community,” he said. “Wow, what a beautiful place to live.”

Other Star Follies profiles to read:

Read other Star Follies profiles at tahoebonanza.com/starfolliesprofiles.

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