Follies legacy part of Palm Springs history

Show ends its 23 season run

Follies legacy part of Palm Springs history

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - For close to a quarter century the Palm Springs Follies filled the Plaza Theater with spectacular costumes, dance and memorable music of decades past.

"It's so amazing and so motivating to all of us folks that are past the 65 mark," said Virginia Dillon of Long Beach who has seen the show 11 times.

But on Sunday, May 18, the cast will take its final bow.

"It's going to be sad," said Terri Olsen, 57, who has been performing with the show since 2012.

"It's amazing and I'm going to miss it," said Jackie Tosti, whose grandmother, Leila Burgess is the oldest female Follies performer at 78 years old.

When founders Riff Markowitz and Mary Jardin created the show in 1991 they thought it'd be just a weekend gig.

"Mayor Pro Tem Tuck Broich, we met him and he said well there's this theater the city has put millions of dollars in for the film festival and other than that we have no no idea what to do with it. Riff and I came to look at it and it spoke to us," Jardin said.

Over its 23 seasons the show attracted millions of people from around the world and became a staple to the local economy.

"We bring so many people here and it's done so much for the businesses," Burgess said. "It's made it alive and I fear when we're gone."

"I hope it's done what we had hoped for, to bring tourism back to Palm springs and an image they were looking for, that sort of Hollywood, celebrity connection," Jardin said.

Since the recession hit in 2008, the Follies continuously dug into its reserves for the show to continue.

"We couldn't continue this way, it's a very expensive show to mount and wouldn't keep increasing our ticket prices," Jardin said.

Now the question on everyone's mind: what if anything will take the Follies' place at the historic venue.

"There isn't a plan announced for the Plaza Theater, that's a process," said Mary Jo Ginther, director of the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism. "At some point something good will happen." 

"I wish someone else would rise to the occasion and carry the baton," Dillon said.

But for many of the dancers the show will go on, just on another stage.

"This show is ending but none of us are finished," said performer Steve Owsley.

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