Performer, journalist, ambassador, philosopher, radio commentator, banker, humorist and multitalented cowboy. Imagine one man possessing all of these credentials. Mount Hebron High School's rendition of The Will Rogers Follies presented a delightful musical adventure that spun the tale of the remarkable life of Will Rogers, one of America's most beloved heroes.
The show, presented last week, is a series of vignettes that enlighten the audience about the wisdom, humor and timeless philosophies of this great man. Excellent acting, well-choreographed dancing and enjoyable music made for a refreshing, fun and lighthearted history lesson.
Will Rogers was played brilliantly by James Fritz. Singing, dancing, roping and playing guitar with ease, Fritz might have made one believe that Will Rogers himself was onstage. Fritz exhibited such varied states as the personable and often humorous Rogers and the more passionate and moving Rogers seen delivering a speech related to the Great Depression. His captivating smile and warm enthusiasm made for a likable character.
Numbers such as "My Unknown Someone" and "No Man Left For Me" highlighted the vocal talents of Sarah Pfeifer, who played Rogers' wife, Betty Blake. She displayed heartfelt emotions and a beautiful voice, and was accompanied by wonderful instrumentation.
Scott Chahanovich portrayed Rogers' father with conviction and charisma. Chahanovich and Fritz exhibited a chemistry reminiscent of a father-son relationship. Other captivating performances included Ziegfeld's Favorite, played by Diana Robinson; Wiley Post, played by Steve Errera; and Lawrence Walker as Florenz Ziegfeld. Song-and-dance numbers performed by the cowboy ensemble, Ziegfeld Girls and female ensemble were well-planned and well-executed.
Dazzling costumes and an impressive array of technical effects -- including outstanding lighting, a fly system that lowered Fritz onto the stage and a slide-show tribute to Will Rogers -- complemented the show.
The Will Rogers Follies is a deserving tribute to the legacy of a man whose philosophy focused on the goodness and humor of humankind. Will Rogers is famous for his many sayings, one of which is: "I know I feel good when I'm up on that stage and I know the audience does too." Anyone who has seen Mount Hebron's production of The Will Rogers Follies will surely agree that this is one show to feel good about.
Sarah Brzezinski reviewed "The Will Rogers Follies" for the Baltimore Cappies, a program in which students review high school productions and vote on awards for outstanding performances.