A Star Is Born

28 Mar 2008 - 7:41am

The Weekly:

Steve Caswell claims he is definitely not a dancer and is actually quite shy. Despite these drawbacks, Caswell will take to the stage lip-synching and dancing along with many members of the Incline Village community in the ninth annual Incline Star Follies to raise money for the Incline public schools.

For anyone who has not experienced the Follies, it is so much more than a lip-synch show. Each year, the cast, under the tutelage of director Don Hertel, pulls out all the stops to create a visual, entertaining extravaganza, stepping out of their comfort zone to be outrageous for a good cause. In year’s past the show has featured Incline High School Principal John Clark dressed as Superman, Incline Elementary School librarian Monica Rice as Roxy Hart from “Chicago” and local Pastor Danny Bell doing the Time Warp. And every year the trademark drag number brings the house down as some of the more secure male cast members get in touch with their feminine side and the occasional feather boa. Caswell, much to his delight, was not pressed into service for this number.

Instead he will be part of a 50s rock male quintet in one number and a cootie shooing college student in another. Caswell, who usually finds himself in the background playing drums, admits he is having the time of his life.

“I’m having a great time working with the people in both my numbers,” he says.

Another plus is how it brings the community together.

“It’s a lotta fun doing it. Everyone wants to make their number look the best and they really give it their all. You meet people in the community and talk about your numbers and it’s kinda cool,” he says.

Caswell finds the process amazing. From the efficiency and detail oriented organization of vice president Kathie Goldberg to the no nonsense approach of Hertel, the Follies runs like a finely honed machine. Hertel, who flies up each year from San Diego to direct the show, lays down the basics for the individual numbers as well as choreographing the two all-cast numbers at the onset over a four-day period. The cast members then run with it, adding their own personalities to the mix.

“Everything (Hertel) does is for a reason and it makes perfect sense. It’s very impressive,” Caswell comments.

In addition to the adults from the community, the cast contains students from the elementary, middle and high schools. Fifth-graders, seventh-graders and high schoolers all work separately with the help of volunteers Karen Osborne, Mindy Wegener and Keli Maiocco. Their numbers are always filled with stellar choreography and the boundless energy that is the gift of youth. The Follies also is often a special bonding experience as parents join their kids as part of the production to share in the magic.

One of the greatest things about the Follies is the friendships and camaraderie that naturally form. It also sometimes makes strange bedfellows, as it allows the opportunity to interact positively with a variety of people. Over the course of only a month, cast members rehearse, bond and obsess over costumes and props frequenting local shop Dress The Part(Y) for ideas and inspiration.

“It’s not like playing drums. It’s kind of overwhelming at first but everyone s very supportive. But you work through it and it all comes together in the end,” Caswell says.

Still, he does admit some fear is involved.

“I have this horrible feeling that I’m going to forget everything. There’s a recurring nightmare that half the routine is going to out of my mind on the night. But I’ll wing it,” he says.

Seasoned cast members like Rice are more confident about Caswell’s talents.

“He’s one of the better ones. He puts his whole heart and soul in to it,” she says.

The Star Follies is all about fun and whether you are in the audience or the cast, the feeling is infectious.

As for Caswell, he’s hooked.

“I’ll definitely be doing it next year, because I’m having such a good time,” he says with a toothy grin.

The Incline Star Follies plays Cal Neva’s Frank Sinatra Showroom on Friday and Saturday, April 4 and 5, at 6 and 8:30 p.m. For more information, call (775) 831-7469 or visit www.inclinestarfollies.org.

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