Sadly, the show mustn't always go on. After more than two decades of unique and fabulously entertaining stage productions, The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies will be closing its doors forever. The Follies announced their final season, The Last Hurrah!, which will open November 1 with its emotional closing performance on May 18, 2014. Guest star Susan Anton performs November 1–December 31, followed by stints by Maureen McGovern, and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Darlene Love.
The longest running Follies of all time, the show was once credited with saving downtown Palm Springs, having attracted busloads of patrons to historic Plaza Theatre before every performance during a time when no other live theater existed in the Greater Palm Springs area. The Follies became world-famous for its Broadway-caliber celebration of the music, dance, and comedy of Mid-Century America, uniquely performed by a senior-citizens cast old enough to have lived it.
"Our 23rd season will be a 'greatest hits' version of our show," said Follies Producer and Co-Founder Riff Markowitz, "with the best dance production numbers and variety acts of past years, and three iconic headliners packed into one last spectacular Follies season. It will be a fitting and exciting last hurrah." Markowitz is also a part of the cast; in fact, as Follies master of ceremonies, he hasn't missed a single show since its premier in 1992. "It's hard for me to believe that sometime during the coming season we will seat our three-millionth audience member."
The success of the Follies was certainly not a foregone conclusion when its run began. At that moment in history, the local entertainment landscape was vastly different than today. The Palm Springs International Film Festival was in its infancy, the McCallum Theatre was just three years old, and the Coachella Valley had yet to welcome its first casino or film/music festival. A reporter once quipped, "Who wants to pay to see old ladies' legs?"
But a few years later, the Follies was a hit. "It has been an amazing, wonderful ride," said Markowitz. "We have always adored our Follies, this tiny jewel box theatre, our town and most of all, our people," he says of the Follies' 110 cast and crew members. "We all feel, however, that we have saved the very best for last. We also take great comfort in knowing that this wonderful theater will continue as a center of Palm Springs' glamour and show biz legend."
Palm Springs International Film Festival Chairman Harold Matzner and Mayor Steve Pougnet confirm that next May a retrofitting will begin preparing the theater for its next incarnation. "The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies has been an outstanding 22-year success story," said Film Festival Chairman Harold Matzner. "The Film Festival looks forward to utilizing the historic Plaza Theatre for screenings."
"The City of Palm Springs would like to thank Riff Markowitz, Mary Jardin and the cast of the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies for 22 spectacular years," says Mayor Pougnet. "In difficult times, the Follies continued to perform and boost our city's tourism. What Riff and Mary did for Palm Springs is beyond compare – hometown folks and visitors will miss seeing them at the Plaza Theatre."
"We're really going to miss our wonderful audiences," said Mary Jardin, Follies co-founder. "We hope to show them how deeply we care by putting everything we have into this last production. We're going to go all out."