Palm Springs Follies Call it Quits with Last Hurrah
The longest running Follies of all time, the show was once credited with saving downtown Palm Springs, and is famous for the busloads of patrons who line up in front of the historic Plaza Theatre before every performance.
"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!" he exclaimed.
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. A reporter even quipped, "Who wants to pay to see old ladies' legs?"
And yet, a few years later, the Follies was a smash hit. So much so that the cover story of the October, 1997 edition of Palm Springs Life magazine was headlined: "How The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies Saved Downtown." And the show has been bringing patrons into the heart of Palm Springs by auto, airline and tour busload ever since. Its press coverage and notoriety have also grown, from local curiosity to national and international sensation, having been covered by nearly every major media outlet in the country and many others around the world.
"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, comprised of the Follies cast and staff—numbering more than a 110 souls. Many folks don't realize, though, that the Follies is 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., six-days-a-week, eleven or more months of the year. And it's now time to be with family, grandchildren, friends...and my dog.
"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. We have discussed with Palm Springs International Film Festival Chairman Harold Matzner and Mayor Steve Pougnet that next May, when the final curtain of our Follies comes down, a retrofitting will commence in preparation for the theater's next incarnation. I know that this historic house, that has contributed so much to our downtown, will continue to be a theatrical and creative focal point in the decades ahead."
"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."
"The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies has been an outstanding 22-year success story in the City of Palm Springs," said Film Festival Chairman Harold Matzner. "Founders Riff Markowitz, Mary Jardin and their tremendous cast are to be commended for their incredible talent and creative vision -- and the Film Festival looks forward to utilizing the historic Plaza Theatre for screenings."
"We are really going to miss our wonderful audiences," said Mary Jardin, Follies co-founder and director of marketing. "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."
In preparation for The Last Hurrah! opening November 1, online ticket sales begin July 15 and the Follies Box Office reopens September 30.
###The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies has been seen by nearly three million patrons, and celebrates the music and dance of Mid-Century America with a cast ranging in age from 55 to 83 years young. The show features lavish, Broadway-caliber production numbers, and plays five days a week. In 1998, it was the subject of an Academy Award-nominated short-subject documentary. The historic Plaza Theatre opened in 1936 for the world premier of the motion picture Camille, with Greta Garbo reportedly in attendance. Since then, the theater's stage has featured performances by such stars as Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Follies tickets may be purchased by calling the Box Office at (760) 327-0225 or online at www.psfollies.com.