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Thalia Book Club Camp offers up-close interaction with renowned children's book authors and illustrators, book discussions, and book-related field trips around the city. This blog follows the camp's activities.

A Look at The Thalia Follies

Published on October 4, 2007

Hello again, friends. My COSSBA (Council of Symphony Space Blog Advisors) has suggested to me that many of you might like a backstage look at just how The Thalia Follies is created. So, here goes:

As many of you may know, Symphony Space’s political cabaret, The Thalia Follies, is beginning its fourth year of comedy, songs, poetry, shtick, and uncategorizable somethings-or-other. The Follies takes place on six Monday evenings in the 175-seat Leonard Nimoy Thalia, with drinks available in the theatre from our unWined Cafe, at the 6:30 and 8:30 shows.

Each of the monthly Follies has a designated subject. Later in the season it will be The Food Follies, The God Follies, The Digital Follies, etcetera, but the season kickoff on October 22 is devoted to comedy about the seemingly endless-already-it’s-been-going-on-for-what-seems-like-ten-years Presidential Election of 2008, with a couple of related glances on some global issues like, say, that war over there that seems equally endless.

A Monday evening Follies begins its extremely short and intensive seven-day rehearsal period on the previous Monday and we catch what rehearsal hours we can, given the busy lives of our regular cadre of revuers, and the availability of a room with a piano in the always-busy spaces of Symphony Space. On that Monday we look over what material we have assembled and assign songs and monologues and the rest to the performers available this month. Musical Director Lanny Meyers starts teaching everyone the songs, finding the right keys, creating back-up harmonies, and all the rest. By Thursday or Friday we have a number of items shaping up. Over the weekend it all comes together, a running order is determined, and on Monday afternoon, lights, costume, choreography, props, sound checks, and final topical bits are all shaken up in the Mixmaster and by 6:30 it’s showtime!

So, if we are to begin rehearsing on October 15th for the October 22 Follies, we get cracking two weeks before that (this past Monday, October 1) with a meeting at the Key West Diner across the street from Symphony Space, to which the show’s two main creators, yours truly and Producer and veteran comedy writer Martin Sage, bring lists of possible topics that we should cover, the germs of ideas we might have been thinking up, random news items clipped from publications and the internet, plus lists of what some of the singer-songwriters in our regular cast like Nora York, or David Buskin, or Jay Leonhart, or The Chalks might be coming up with.

While it’s still very early in this month’s comedy gestation, we can safely predict that the October 22 Follies will include Hillary singing “Just My Bill,” as well as a ballad about the exciting (ho-hum) Fred Thompson candidacy, a tap-dance number about that Minneapolis Airport men’s room, a song about Mrs. Giuliani as well as one about President Sarkozy of France, a sketch about scheduling the Delaware Presidential Primary, a Shakespearean soliloquy for Obamo, The Moor of Chicago, and an instructional guide on how to tell the second-tier Republican hopefuls apart.

There’s still time to submit your own sketch, monologue, or song lyric. Join the fun!

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