Theater Review | thru March 30 For some odd reason, The Will Rogers Follies: A Life in Revue managed to nab six Tonys in 1991, including Best Musical and Best Score. Maybe what was presented on Broadway was just so packed with color and talent that the performers and crew made the show worthwhile.
Michael Haws plays Will Rogers in B&B"s "The Will Rogers Follies."
For anyone who isn"t familiar with Will Rogers, he was an Oklahoma humorist in the early part of the 20th century, including the Depression. He became famous through the Ziegfeld Follies, cabaret-type shows that used scantily-clad, beautiful women as decoration amongst various skits. Rogers was an Everyman, and the masses responded to him in droves. He died in a plane crash in 1935. The Will Rogers Follies features Will retelling his life through a succession of folly-esque segments and conversations with Mr. Ziegfeld in the light box. This is a musical that makes you wonder what prompted the authors to set this man"s life to song. Perhaps it"s because, in truth, Will"s life just isn"t all that interesting. He met a lot of people and was quite rich and famous, and even ran for president once. But really, it"s duller than it sounds. Rogers was a rather droll character, and actor Michael Haws doesn"t do anything to spruce him up. His lariat act, "Give a Man Enough Rope," was rather simplistic, and the night I went he never made it through one of his tricks even after several tries. Rogers" wife was Betty Blake, and Melissa Dawn Bryant"s portrayal of her during courtship and early marriage made me think "Betty Flake." However, the adult Betty was much more palatable and Bryant exhibited the best voice in the cast, especially in "No Man Left for Me." Elizabeth Broadhurt as Ziegfeld"s Favorite, the requisite decorative piece, sang the opening number, "Will-a-mania," which was inaudible. Choreography by Ron Morgan (also the director) was only serviceable. Thom Hoffman provided some great costumes, but the song where they were really showcased, "Presents for Mrs. Rogers," felt like filler material. Rogers" death was felt across the world, but as a musical, his life is forgettable. s continues through March 30 at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre; call 872-9664 for tickets.