Preview: PTC's Will Rodgers Follies

There’s a lot of darkness in our entertainment these days. Take for example, all the grim men and women of Game of Thrones covered in dirt and sweat, twirling swords while spitting out hyperbolic speeches about the winter, how it is coming and that life is an unrelenting slog of doom, doom and yet more doom. This seems to be where our collective heads are at.

It’s a real bummer man.

So how about this weekend, you stop watching a dystopian fantasy that hasn’t yet come to pass and, I don’t know, have some fun. Drop the cynicism and let’s all go to the Follies.

Follies, for those of you who have forgotten, are lavish vaudeville theatrical revues with lots of silly glamor, hokey jokes and easy spectacle. “The Follies” is a phrase like “Picture show” that has been left behind, like those poor bastards in The Leftovers, but this weekend The Will Rogers Follies: A Life in Revue opens at Pioneer Memorial Theatre and I think it’s going to a refreshing dose of nostalgic sugar for the bitterness we’ve all decided to wallow in.

Will Rogers, for those of you who have forgotten, was a folksy cowboy fellow, who dispensed homespun wisdom in thousands of performances on stage and in film and newspaper columns during an actually grim time in America—the Great (capital G) Depression.

Rogers got his start in the Ziegfeld Follies, a vaudeville variety show, with a rope act. And the Pioneer Theatre Company production opening this weekend, is Rogers’ biography writ via folly (in the fun sense, not the Game of Thrones sense).

Rogers famously said many things—among them: “When I die, my epitaph, or whatever you call those signs on gravestones, is going to read: ‘I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I didn’t like.’ I am so proud of that, I can hardly wait to die so it can be carved.”

Aww. Such grace, such cleverness and such kindness. Sounds good to me. How about a little razzle-dazzle this weekend? Some cleverness and kindness? No dragons. No swords. No zombies. Just rope tricks and aphorisms. Winter is coming, yes, but spring is here now.

The Will Rogers Follies: A Life in Revue runs opens Friday, May 5 and runs through May 20. Tickets, showtimes and info here.

Jeremy Pugh
Jeremy Pugh
Jeremy Pugh is Salt Lake magazine's Editor. He covers culture, history, the outdoors and whatever needs a look. Jeremy is also the author of the book "100 Things to Do in Salt Lake City Before You Die" and the co-author of the history, culture and urban legend guidebook "Secret Salt Lake."

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