Story by Jesus Sanchez
Live acts filled with burlesque, dog dancing, hula hoops, juggling, singing, and almost anything else can be seen in an upcoming variety show at Wealthy Theater. On March 4, the first Saturday of the month, Wealthy Theatre presents ‘Frivolous Follies: Spring it on!’.
Amy McDaniel stage name Sweet Vidalia is the founder, director and entertainer in the production.
This is their second production of Frivolous Follies and McDaniel describes their show as a ‘modern type of Vaudeville Sh’Bang,’ or like ‘Saturday Night Live.’ The acts are composed of mostly comedy. From Vaudeville, they did their shows with dramatic readings and songs, but McDaniel wanted it to be light-hearted this time to keep the audience engaged.
“Nothing is pure drama and that’ll make you cry,” McDaniel said. “I wanted people to laugh, drink, and just have a good time without having to think too hard.”
The audience can expect a lot of different types of segments. McDaniel made it clear that the crowd will never know what’s going to happen next. Just from reading the name of the acts, they won’t really know what they’re getting into. The acts are less than five minutes long.
The idea for the group was created last March. The first show was in November of last year. “Spring it on!” ideas starting flowing right in last December after the first production. The name of the group was actually a group decision. McDaniel messaged the crew about what describes ‘fun’ and ‘variety’ and one of the crewmates said ‘frivolous,’ since the show was light-hearted.
“One thing Grand Rapids has is a lot of talent,” McDaniel said. “There’s straight plays, musicals, different singing groups, a lot of different groups but nothing like a true variety show.”
Being the director, creator, and star of her own show is a lot of work for McDaniel. It’s every title all rolled into one. She’s the founder of the group, the producer, advertiser, finds organizations to sponsor, the director, writer, and performer. She improvises some of the acts and makes sure everyone is on the same boat as she is. For her, singers, dancers, and the need of comedy were the circumstances she needed for the entertainers, any variety of it she could get. By this means, she was able to find the group ‘Rockin’ Rovers,’ the people that work and train dogs how to do their dance routines.
McDaniel has been singing since she was 8 years old and ever since then, has had over 30 years of experience. Some of the performers have only done theater for five years, and others have never touched the stage before.
The crew needed for the show is all self sufficient. The music is all done with mp3s and everyone can work with what they can do. They even have a live pianist for the performances.
“Working with the cast is much different than any other typical show rehearsals. Instead of having steady practices,” McDaniel has to trust every act to get their own stuff together. They only meet once and that’s right before the show. So, it’s a bit nerve-racking. “Yet, the cast wants to put on their best show and not embarrass themselves.”
“Theater is a release for people,” McDaniel said.
The greatest challenge for the show is the organization for McDaniel. She has to make sure everything flows and if anything happens, she has to be able to respond. The hard earned money does not go all to her though.
Each show they do will be raising funds for an animal rescue group. Their first show in November raised money for Hearts For Hope, who helps rescue dogs. This show will help Carol’s Ferals, which is a cat rescue organization. The doors will open at 8 p.m. and the show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 advanced, $12 at the door and can be found online.
Members ages 21 and over may purchase alcohol. If you want more info about the group, you can visit their website.. Not every cast member is permanent, so those interested in being the show, can contact Frivolous Follies at their website or contact McDaniel at (616) 446-5931.