Yes, it’s that time again. The Orange Service League’s Follies, a variety show, only comes around once every three years. Curtain rises at 7:30 p.m. this Friday and Saturday at the Lutcher Theater.

In 2008 the story had the cast stranded on the road during a hurricane evacuation; wishing they were on vacation. This year, the cast is on vacation in Hollywood taking a tour through the great classic films.

The Follies is an opportunity for anyone that ever wanted to be on stage. If you just show up at the auditions, you are allowed to participate. The cast, of about 50, ranges in age from around 2-3 years old all the way up to people in their 60s.

“It’s just a great opportunity for people in the community to get together for a good cause. We have people that are new to Orange and they don’t know anybody, and so they’re taking part in the activity getting to know other people in town, so it’s like a community wide effort which has a good cause to it,” said Kevin Doss. 

Brook and Kevin Doss not only are directing the show for their second season, they also wrote the script.

 “This year, Kevin and I, you know, we wrote the script and it’s called ‘Hollywood Nights.’ It’s about a group of whacky tourists that go on tour through Hollywood,” said Brook Doss.” They have basically a journey through the movies. They come out and talk about the different types of movies they like. You know their favorite genres of movies. You’ll see a western set, a spy movie set, there’s a comedy section, a musical section. There are eight different sets of movies they’re going to explore.

“There’s musical solos, duets, group numbers, just strictly dance numbers; the traditional kick line, the traditional couples dance,” she said. “We’ve tried to incorporate things from the Follies from years and years ago and just kinda make it more modern for our day and time. But, the people who have been coming here for years want to see those traditional things too.”

“This was a little more difficult to write, because there’s so many good movies out there. And there’s a lot of famous songs from movies. But are they something people are going to recognize and is it something you can get the music for? Then you have to work in dance numbers too.”

“It took a lot more time this year to come up with all the songs that would be recognizable to the audience, plus fun for our performers, because that’s what it’s all about. [The performers] want to be here because they want to have some fun and they want to entertain and overall, the whole thing is for charity,” said Brook.

We hope to raise a lot of money for the Orange Service League because of the great things they do for the community. The money they raise will last for three years.”

“I believe this Follies, this year is dedicated to Jeff Hattman,” said Brook.

“That’s what they tell me,” said Hattman in a later interview. “I don’t know why.”

“She’s like a second mom to both me and Kevin,” said Brook.

Hattman joined the Service League about 1985, after she quit teaching. She isn’t participating in the Follies this year. Hattman said it was because her daughter was coming and she wants to sit with her. “I just wanted to watch, for once.” 

The show not only presents song and dance, but advertising too. “There are several businesses that have paid to come and do live commercials on stage,” said Brook. “They create their own ads and then they come to us and we offer suggestions and tips on what they should do to make it better.

“All told there are probably over 100 people involved in [the production]. It’s a big show and it’s great that we get to do it at the Lutcher Theater,” said Brook.

“There are a lot of Lamar State College students in it as well, they get to dance and sing and act which is a lot of fun. From the youngest person to the oldest person, it’s just a great opportunity. We’re just having a good time,” said Kevin.

Brook said several of her students are also participating. She enjoys meeting all the people in the community. “And the Orange Service League ladies are so incredibly nice. They have been there every single night, helping us, making us feel like big time directors. It really is a fun thing, stressful, but fun.”

“This is the shortest amount of time a Follies has ever been put together because of the two days of ice,” said Kevin. “We lost two days rehearsals due to the ice.”

Brook said it was harder to write rather than just directing the show. “We don’t know if the lines are going to be funny, if they are going to relate to the audience.”

“Our group of actors on the show is great. They’re really funny, comedic performers. We have different types of characters and the people that tried out for those parts are perfect for them. So we have to make sure that part of the show works,” said Brook.  “Then we have to pick out all of the songs that are going to work for the show and hopefully they go with what we’re saying.”

“And then you’ve got the choreographers, there’s Rose Thayer and Jill Morris, John Gray, Kristy Kovatch and then a former student of mine, Mandy Dowden, she choreographed one number,” said Brook.  “So we’re talking about a big team of people that are running this thing that have to work cohesively; so that it works for our performers; so that it in turn, works for our audience; so it’s harder for me.

“Everything’s starting to gel,” said Kevin.

The Lutcher Theater will have staff to assist the Orange Community Players tech crew during the performances. Brook said she is very comfortable working with the OCP crew because they have worked on numerous shows together. “It helps when you already know each other and know what the expectations are.”

Brook was thrilled about the Salvation Army opening their doors for practices. “Otherwise we wouldn’t have any place to rehearse.”

Their cast party will be held at Lamar State College-Orange after the show’s run is complete.

“It should be a good two and a half hours of pure entertainment from our community,” said Kevin. “We have people from all over, from Beaumont, Port Neches, to Nederland, you know, Mid-County people have come over because they want to take part in the activity over here in Orange.”

This one fundraiser gives the Service League all the money they need for three years of operation. The money is funneled back into the area as contributions to local charitable organizations.

Something new was started with the last Follies. “Each night there is going to be two $250 cash drawing prizes, so a total of $500 per night is going to be given out to a ticket stub holder,” said Brook. “So when you purchase your ticket, you get your name in the hat for the drawing.”

“Tickets are $10 for balcony seats, $20 for orchestra,” said Brook. “They can get them on …or they can purchase them at the door.” She also said the earlier you buy tickets, the better seat you get.

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.