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See Follies: Four strong reasons to attend a classic community event

Lions Follies is a great Hood River tradition that deserves the support of a large audience.

“Kid Awesome and the Disco Girls,” a rollicking comedy featuring plenty of music and funny sketches, wraps up the Follies this weekend at Hood River Middle School Auditorium, for the 41st time. Watching your neighbors performing on this stage is an impressive and important annual spring ritual, and if you have not witnessed it before, or have missed the last few years, this weekend is your chance to see a unique live show that is funny and full of excellent musical performances.

This year, Follies stalwarts stand out, from solos by Andrea Fox and Sarah Fox as female arch villains and Dave Tallman and Wayne Tengwall as superheroes, to the funny skit with Tallman singing “Hello” while Batman (Wade Hogg) and Superman (Jeremy Belcher) answer the phone call with funny interjections. Later, the running gag involving Shane McCarthy as “An Unlucky Citizen” and Nurse Pinch (Caryn Chilton) gets a big payoff in “That’s It, I Quit, I’m Moving On,” which the much-bandaged McCarthy calmly performs while Chilton straps him onto a full-body board.

Here are four basic reasons to take in this event, as rounded a community project as you will see anywhere:

• Proceeds benefit the Oregon Sight and Hearing Foundation, recipient of more than $340,000 from Follies in its first 40 years. The whimsical show each year meets a serious need.

• If audibility was a factor for some audience members in the past, consider the problem solved: this year’s Follies is the first since local Eye Opener Lions and the school district installed a hearing loop system designed to make it much easier for anyone with hearing impairment to enjoy any performance at the auditorium. The loop system is a long-lasting gift to the community.

• Then there is the auditorium itself: it is simply a great hall for any live performance, and a historic place entering its 91st year. (It’s only slightly too early to start contemplating a 100th anniversary celebration for the entire school, which was built in 1927 as Hood River High School; the auditorium is the jewel in Hood River’s architectural crown.) Yes, the seats can be uncomfortable, but Lions provide cushions if you need them.

• The youngsters in the cast, and there are many of them: the show features close to two dozen children, aged 4-18 (and younger, if you include the “Baby Hulk” cameo). They are fun to watch, in ways that kids on stage always are, but real talent exists among the youth, from singing and acting to tap-and other dancing.

It’s the biggest reason to see the show this weekend: the chance to see the future of Follies.

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