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Cathy and Sam Thompson | Laura Austin Photo

Ridgecrest’s 30th Annual Star Follies, returns April 26-27

By LAURA QUEZADA  News Review Staff Writer 

It’s time for the 30th Annual Ridgecrest Star Follies (Follies). This popular evening of laughter and community spirit was so popular last year that they had to add an extra performance this year. There is one on Friday night, April 26, at 7:30 pm and two on Saturday, April 27, at 5:30 pm and 8:30 pm, all at Joshua Hall in the Desert Empire Fairgrounds. Tickets are $25, and you can get them at the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce office – 128 E California Ave, Red Rock Books – 206 W. Ridgecrest Blvd, S.A.S.S. – 808 W. Ridgecrest Blvd and from cast members.

The Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce webpage reads, “The annual Star Follies supports the ongoing efforts of the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce to bring the community together as we provide ongoing support to the local business community.

“The Chamber Follies is a beloved annual event performed exclusively by community members who dance and act to put the “fun” back into fundraising. The lighthearted, fast-paced musical comedy show featuring the community’s talents is an entertaining and engaging experience for all.”

The same team that has been directing and producing this show has created a fun evening with something for everyone. Don Hertel of San Diego has directed every show since the beginning. Janis Bottorff has been the local producer for many years. She tells us, “Half of the numbers are returns from prior years. These numbers were well-received by the audiences. We thought we’d bring them back – a blast from the past.”
There will be a lot of familiar faces, folks you wouldn’t expect to see on stage, much less guys in high heels. One couple are beloved Ridgecrest residents Cathy and Sam Thompson. Sam fell in love with Ridgecrest many years ago. “I’ve left and come back while I was in the military. I left and came back three different times. I liked the people here.” Cathy adds, “It is a good place to grow kids.” Sam currently teaches a metal shop at Burroughs High School.

The Thompsons have lost track of how long they have been performing in the Follies. Sam thinks he has been on stage for more than 20 years. Cathy thinks she joined in 2016. This couple is popular among Follies cast members, too. Their marriage was performed five years ago on Follies’ grounds after a performance. “Originally, we were supposed to get married during the actual show, and then it just got too complicated,” Sam tells us. He said it was Bottorff’s idea, and she orchestrated the whole shebang.

“It turned out outstanding,” says Sam. “Scott (Frid), one of my best friends, said ‘I’m a priest. I’ll just marry you.’ It just can’t get any better than that.” Although they were married after the show, they performed the number on stage. “The song we did it to onstage was Just Marry Me from Glee,” remembers Cathy, who has considered this number her favorite throughout the years.

It is also one of Sam’s favorites, but he also remembers When the Devil Goes Down to Georgia. “I was a hillbilly with a fiddle. Then, the colonel from the base was the devil, and I was Johnny. I made the fiddles for it, and it was really fast. Yeah, it was furious. And some people came up to me afterward and said, ‘We didn’t know you can play the fiddle,’ which was funny because they were friends of mine.” This may be a good time to mention that this is a lip-sync show.

Backstage hijinks between friends are not uncommon. “We were doing a number from South Pacific. I had the coconut bra and a grass skirt with boots on, and Scott was supposed to put a ship on my belly. He did it, but he didn’t tell me he did it with a permanent marker. It took two weeks for that ship to come off.”
Follies is becoming a family affair for the Thompsons. Their grandson, Tyler Gremillion, joined Follies. “So having him get in it means we can slowly exit as we age. I mean, we’re not spring chickens anymore, you know? It’s nice to have some young blood.”

“It’s fun to go to rehearsals,” says Cathy. “I enjoy it so much because you don’t always run into everybody all the time.”

Check out Ridgecrest Star Follies. It raises funds for scholarships and is a good time.

Check it out.