When the curtain goes up on the Follies this weekend at the Bus Barn Theater, just remember, you can’t leave before the ducks come out — nor before the song about Bullis Charter School is sung.
It’s just been that kind of year.
The Follies, for the uninitiated, is a musical parody show and major fundraiser for the Bus Barn Theater. Using song, dance and irreverant humor, it’s aimed at anyone and everyone in political life. And yes, it’s a little goofy.
“Think of it as 'Beach Blanket Babylon' with smaller hats,” said director, producer and chief costume-maker Vicki Reeder.
The invitations say it’s called a “Salute to Poppycock, Balderdash and Politicking.”
That means they take wicked aim at California's foie gras law, the Los Altos’ City Council’s flirtation with banning banks downtown, and the “500-pound gorilla” references to a certain real estate investment company that is widely believed to be backed by the famous founder of another company that begins with “G.” Expect the Follies to have fun with the hand-wringing over height limits downtown—and pivot to the international with the debt crisis in Europe, then back to the domestic by taking on the presidential candidates (The song, “Help Me Rhonda” becomes … guess who?)
It costs about $8,000 to put on the show and at $90 a ticket over three nights, plus generous corporate sponsors, raises $30,000 for Bus Barn Theater. About $200-300 go to costumes, including those duck costumes that Reeder said she made herself.
They purposely exaggerate, as satire does, to let the audience get some relief in what might be too sobering times, she said. Those who think people form their opinions about who to vote for or how to think about an issue from the show, she said, exaggerate the Follies’ influence. “There's the League of Women Voters site" for that, she said. "The only reaction I want is for people to laugh.”
Reeder says she invites emcees who appreciate satire and can roll with the punches. That includes neighboring pols, such as Mountain View Mayor Mike Kasperzak (“He 'gets' satire,” Reeder said) who emcees Saturday. State Senator Joe Simitian has emceed (“He doesn’t mind being mocked”).
And this year, yes, there is a new emcee to poke at.
“If you weren't planning to go but are looking for a way to heckle me, support me or otherwise laugh with me, please save the date and buy some tickets,” wrote Courtenay Corrigan to friends and contacts. She will become a Los Altos Hills Town Council member in December. Corrigan, who emcees on Friday night, has been a fierce supporter of Bullis Charter School, which is getting its turn on the satire stage.
“For years, I’ve been trying to think what’s funny about it,” said Reeder, in massive understatement, musing about the years of lawsuits and current sturm-und-drang. But something finally struck her this year.
There will, no doubt, be many who can’t wait to find out.
The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and runs Friday through Saturday. For tickets ($90), see www.busbarn.org. The house was 90 percent sold as of Wednesday.