Ed Gurowitz: Once again, Star Follies a great success

4 May 2010 - 12:40pm

I go to Star Follies every year to support our schools and to enjoy it — I never intend to write about it and every year I do because I can't not. It is just about the best thing that this community has to offer.

Over the past couple of months I've spent two weeks in New York at a program for business executives that has as its purpose nothing less than a complete reinvention of who its (already very successful) participants are being in the world. The methodology used is not new to me — I've been working with it in one form or another for about 30 years. What is different is that the methodology of personal transformation is combined with that of the theater. The designer of the program has a long and successful background as an acting coach, and she has brought together some of the finest acting coaches and actors around — people you would know if you watch TV.

In that program I watched as executives who have never had a thought of being on stage took on an assigned project — a song or reading — that they were to perform, with coaching, at the level of a Broadway performance, and I saw them do it — the last evening of the program was in a theater and they performed — brilliantly and movingly. I performed myself and it was a life-changing experience.

So when I went to the Follies this year I watched the performances through the eyes of one who knows what it takes to get up on stage and get way far outside your comfort zone, and I was just knocked out. My purpose here is not to review the Follies — I'm not a critic or a reviewer, and there's no point anyhow. Unlike a Broadway performance, this one is new — new material, new cast, new everything every year. But as someone whose first love was acting and directing, I can't let something as remarkable as this go without comment.

I want to appreciate the great work by everyone involved. Sure, you could say, they lip-sync. But let me tell you from personal experience, if you're not a natural dancer, choreography is much harder than singing or acting, and these folks were step-perfect as well as great in their acting and their lip-synching. No surprise that the biggest group behind the scenes is the Choreographers.

And the kids. My oh my, the kids — from 5th grade through high school they were amazing. Please — don't talk to me about sullen, withdrawn teenagers. These kids were OUT THERE!!! And the adults — teachers, principals, professionals, you name it. I won't single anyone out by name — it would be unfair to the others — but I'll make one exception. Gene Brockman was born to play Officer Krupke!

The folks who make the Follies happen — Producer Ron Stichter, Director Don Hertel, and particularly Assistant Director Kathie Goldberg who makes it all work, and the Board of Directors, the crew, the school liaisons and all the volunteers, thank you. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention Linda Offerdahl — the costumes were funny, topical and above all, professional-grade.

I don't often claim to speak for others, but in this I'm confident that I am speaking for our whole community when I say Thank You, from the bottom of our hearts, not only to this year's cast and crew, but to everyone who, for the past 11 years has taken part in this great event. You give us hope, joy and peace in our town, at least for a couple of nights, and you contribute to our kids — our future — immeasurably.

If you haven't gone to Star Follies, mark your calendar now for next year, and if you want to have a life-changing experience of going beyond what you think you can do, sign up to perform. You'll love it.

— Ed Gurowitz has a doctorate in psychology and is a management consultant. He has lived in Incline Village since 1995 and is active in the Democratic Party. His columns can be found at www.egurowitz.blogspot.com, and he is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and tahoeticker.com. He can be reached for comment at egurowitz@gurowitz.com.

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