Palm Springs, Ca.: We all remember the hit television show
“The Golden Girls” about four wacky roommates (Okay, Bea Arthur’s Dorothy
was not wacky) that included their octogenarian mother, Sophia. Now try to
imagine those golden girls sashaying around the stage in a buoyant musical
revue of the 1930’s and 1940’s called “The Palm Springs Follies.”
I know, it’s difficult to picture – women of “a certain age” cavorting
like showgirls or pin-ups, but that’s what “The Palm Springs Follies” is
offering to audiences of all ages: a physical and emotional elasticity of
showgirls exuding admiration, razzle-dazzle, and open-mouthed wonder.
NATASCHA ALBORN, 68, "My Heart Belongs To Daddy"
|Now in its fourteenth season, the
three-hour knockout features a vaudeville-style song and dance revue.
Playing at the historic 1936 Plaza Theatre in downtown Palm Springs,
the show single-handedly has rejuvenated the village that was once
Playground of the Stars.
When creators Riff Markowitz and Mary Jardin took
over the vacant Plaza Theatre, no one could have believed that they
would turn it into the home of one of the most successful shows of its
kind. Nearly three million people have flocked to see the extravaganza
jam-packed with nostalgia that echoes back to an era of Big Bands,
memorable tunes, and fanciful costumes.
Today’s tribute spotlights showgirls numbering in ages from
57-87! One of the most sensual is Natascha Ahlborn in her solo “My Heart
Belongs to Daddy.” At 68, the German born performer has danced
professionally at The Follies Bergere, and the Lido in Paris.
Glenda Gulfoyle 70, in "That Old Black Magic"
|If you don’t believe these “tap dancing
grandmas” are the real deal, take a look at 80-year-old Dorothy Kloss
as she glides serenely across the stage in “The Continental.” Joined
by Judy Bell, 66, and Glenda Guilfoyle, 70, the threesome do a
rollicking version of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” made famous by The
Andrew Sisters. As the women stars introduce themselves to the
cheering audience, Kloss, one of the oldest performers in the show,
gets a warm welcome from the crowd. But it’s not until Glenda
Guilfoyle announces that she has seven children and eight
grandchildren do the people go wild.
Having read this far, you will notice that I haven’t
elaborated on the male performers in the company, only because we seem to
be mesmerized if not delightfully surprised by the glamour that women can
radiate in their 80’s. Among the male entertainers, Dick France and Lou
DeGrado, both 74, are graceful and energetic assisting the women, while
the Male Ensemble provides a nimble accompaniment in “Sentimental
Journey,” “Steppin’ Out With My Baby,” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”
RIFF MARKOWITZ, debonair creator
of "The Palm Springs Follies"
|Although not strutting or stomping,
Riff Markowitz, Master of Ceremonies, keeps things moving along at a
comedic pace. Debonair in a tailored tuxedo, the emcee cuts a fine
figure as he warms up the crowd. Much like Jack Benny, Markowitz is
most successful delivering deadpan humor. Each show highlights a
talent to amuse – not to mention Markowitz’ consummate timing and
rip-roaring jokes that poke gentle fun of seniors.
Headliner Kay Ballard, 79
|This year’s headliner is Kaye Ballard.
At seventy-nine, the charismatic Ballard is a show business miracle
who has been an enduring personality for sixty years. Discovered by
bandleader Spike Jones in 1943, Ballard has appeared in Broadway
musicals, movies, and was a regular on the Perry Como Show and The
Doris Day Show. But it was her starring role in the television hit
series “The Mothers-in-Law” that brought Ballard appreciable acclaim.
Primarily known for her comedic timing, this headliner can belt out a
song as evidenced in “Stormy Weather,” and in her loving tribute to
her grandmother. Affable in person, the star conducted a book signing
of “How I Lost 10 Pounds in 56 Years” after the show. The cast also
greeted members of the audience and posed for pictures as well as
With musical arrangements by Johnny Harris, costumes
designed by Connie Furr, choreography by Joan Palethorpe and Tap
Choreography by Carri Burbank Glen, “The Palm Springs Follies” concludes
exuberantly with a patriotic red, white and blue tribute. Featured songs
include “The Yankee Doodle Boy,” “Strike Up The Band,” “Over There,” and
“America The Beautiful.”
And beautiful it is.
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For more information:
“The Palm Springs Follies”
128 South Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, California 92262
Tickets from $39-$82
Photos by Linda-Marie Singer