During the mid 19th Century, Paris, France was considered to be the cultural center of the world.Aristocrats and royalty traveled throughout Europe to Paris not only to purchase cutting-edge fashions or to amuse themselves, but to be noticed attending the Folies Bergere, the world’s first Music Hall.The Folies became the center of attention as an entertainment spot for introducing new, upcoming stars. Variety acts and young talent from around the world, such as Maurice Chevalier, Will Rogers, Josephine Baker, the Marx Brothers, and Charlie Chaplin all made their claim to fame under the glittering marquee of the Folies.
Thirty-eight years later, just before the First World War, Florenz Ziegfeld produced a Broadway revue similar to the Folies Bergere.Ziegfeld gave his audiences spectacular music, contemporary comedy, and his eternally famous and legendary ladies of beauty, the Ziegfeld Girls.Flo Ziegfeld was famous not only for his stage productions but for his offstage publicity stunts, often involving his wife or mistresses.Exotic and erotic costumes were the hallmark of his dancers who were renowned for “beauty of face, form, charm, manner, personal magnetism, individuality, grace and poise.”
The Folies Bergere and the Ziegfeld Follies provided their audiences with music and laughter during the 19th and 20th centuries.The 21st Century continues the tradition of lavish costumes, musical variety, current comedy, and yes, Dancing Girls!Americans have come to expect quality entertainment, variety, and cultural diversity from Broadway and off-Broadway.Many people consider San Francisco and Las Vegas when thinking of comedy, cabaret, or musicals revues.
It’s now time to consider BrevardCounty!The second annual Fabulous Florida Follies directed by BrevardCounty resident, Allison McKay feature an entire cast of local, accomplished Golden Age entertainers and glamorous showgirls taking the audience back in time to the Ziegfeld Follies.All of the Fabulous Florida Follies performers not only call BrevardCounty their home, but with one exception, all are over the age of 50.Some choose to keep their exact age a secret, while others proudly reveal their longevity during the show.
Ms. McKay has starred on Broadway and Off Broadway.She performed opening acts in Las Vegas for more than seven years for such headliners as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.She’s appeared as a regular on more than half a dozen television shows, including Gomer Pyle USMC, Marcus Welby, MD, and The Red Skelton Show.Her resume seems like a Who’s Who of show business, because she has worked with such high profile names as Rue McClanahan, Maureen Stapelton, Tony Danza, and John Goodman.She’s been twice nominated for an Emmy Award, and yet her focus is not on her past accomplishments, but what is yet to be done right here in BrevardCounty.
Allison McKay enjoyed many years as one of Johnny Carson’s Mighty Carson Arts Players and as the lead “Mother Superior” in the Off Broadway hit Nunsense.She truly has performed with some of Hollywood’s and Broadway’s best actors and actresses, yet she said affectionately, “My favorite people to perform Nunsense with were my ‘sisters’ who worked with me at the Phoenix,” here in BrevardCounty. Although McKay will soon be filming with John Travolta in his upcoming movie, Lonely Hearts, her current focus is on the Fabulous Florida Follies, presented by the Masquers.
Ms. McKay is a resident of MelbourneVillage and Philadelphia.She wrote the script for The Fabulous Florida Follies, directs the performance, and she performs on stage.This year’s show is dedicated to 95 year-old Jonathan Robinson, who works with local At Risk children, and is devoted to putting them in touch with a cultural aspect they might never otherwise know.All proceeds from The Fabulous Florida Follies will provide scholarships for Brevard graduates who wish to pursue careers in Theatre Arts and Music and a donation will be made to the Melbourne Performing Arts Guild.The Guild will be providing refreshments for sale during intermission as an additional fund-raiser.
One of Ms. McKay’s biggest concerns is that her performers cannot rehearse as often as they’d like because of the expense of renting suitable venues.Her goal is to provide 100% of ticket sales to scholarship recipients, yet even with nearly three dozen volunteers performing on stage and behind the scenes; she still must pay the technicians, as well as insurance, and other expenses.
McKay takes pride in providing cultural and comedic education to people of all walks of life.She said, “I like to teach people how to appreciate comedy.You’d be surprised how many people don’t understand live comedy.”The Fabulous Florida Follies features an entire cast of talented entertainers over the age of 50 who will entertain and dazzle sold out audiences in April at FIT’s Gleason Auditorium.
Notable guest stars in this year’s Follies are all Brevard residents. The Rileys are a song and dance team, featuring Bill Riley who was a member of the Shark Gang in Broadway’s West Side Story.Also starring will be Ms. Senior America 1999, Joyce Clautice, whose dance teacher told her, “You will never be a Prima Ballerina, but you are the best, because you dance with feeling!”Fleet, an international singer and Roberta Glover will also perform, as well as two well known, local quartets:Haywire and Hot Cocoa.Ms. McKay knows that a show without supporting cast will not be successful, so she has found much more local talented performers to amuse, entertain, and tickle her audiences pink.
Gleason Performing Arts Center is located at 150 W. University Blvd in Melbourne, and despite seating capacity for more than 500, including handicapped accessibility; Ms. McKay expects both shows to be sold out, again this year.She highly encourages advanced purchase of tickets for those who would not wish to be turned away.Tickets are reasonably priced at $13 for General Admission, with Senior and Student tickets costing $10.Groups of ten or more can purchase tickets for only $9 each.
The Fabulous Florida Follies will perform on Saturday Night, April 23, at and on Sunday afternoon, April 24 at .For more information, or to order advanced tickets, call 722-2215 or 722-9131.
Spotlight on a Senior Achiever
Allison McKay directs the Fabulous Florida Follies and brings a taste of Las Vegas and Broadway to MelbourneFlorida while showcasing acclaimed entertainers all over the age of 50.Ms. McKay, herself an Emmy nominated actress and star of stage and screen, knows talent when she sees it.That is why this year, she is especially proud of all of her performers.
Fleet is an international singer who has performed in more than 140 countries; Bill Riley has performed on Broadway in the world famous play West Side Story, and yet one of the most impressive performers in the Fabulous Florida Follies isn’t a professional entertainer.She’s a retired school teacher.Joyce Reilly Clautice of Annapolis, MD and Cocoa Beach, FL was crowned Ms. Senior America 1999 at the New York New York Hotel in Las Vegas on September 23, 1999.Mrs. Clautice is an interpretive dancer who feels that, "If your mind can receive it and your heart can believe it, then your body can achieve it."
Some people have introduced her as a “former” Ms. Senior America, but she states firmly and authoritatively that she is not a former anything.“I am Ms. Senior America 1999.Every woman who is crowned retains her title for that year.Each year the actual title changes, because the year changes.”She may be retired from teaching in the structured classrooms, but she will always be a teacher, just as she will always be a wife, a mother, and vibrant, beautiful human being.After retiring from 25 years of teaching in 4 states including Freedom 7 in CocoaBeach, she tutored children and was a mentor for the "stay at home alone" elderly.
Mrs. Clautice has the silent bone-thinning disease called osteoporosis; yet despite this condition, she has twice received the Governor’s Physical Fitness Award.She maintains a positive attitude, eats healthy meals, regularly visits her physician, and continues her rigorous dance routines.According to her husband, “At age 61, she was dancing with the bones of an 80 year old.As a role model for those with osteoporosis, Merck Pharmaceutical became her sponsor and she was flown to many State Pageants throughout the US, appearing on TV as the Ambassador of Senior Women.”
Merck & Company, Inc, are the makers of Osteoporosis pharmaceuticals such as Fosamax and Raloxifene, and advocate bone density testing in women over the age of 50.
Joyce Reilly Clautice is a perfect model for retirement.She recently celebrated her 45th wedding anniversary with Captain William G. Clautice USN.She performs with a Liturgical Dance Group and the Senior America Cameo Clubs of FL, MD and VA.Cameo Clubs consist of previous contestants and winners of the Ms. Senior America pageant.The women of the Cameo Clubs provide inspiration and encouragement through their performance at VeteransHospitals, SeniorCenters, Children’s Facilities, Nursing Homes and wherever they can help by spreading their dynamism, enthusiasm,and love of life.
Mrs. Clautice chooses to exercise with tennis, golf, skiing and aerobics. She is a member of the Naval Officers Wives Club, AARP and National Osteoporosis Foundation, travels extensively, and enjoys activities with her three children and eight grandchildren.She has an infectious giggle and energy that is contagious.
The Fabulous Florida Follies don’t highlight just one performer as their superstar, because it takes an entire cast to create a memorable presentation.Yet, Joyce Reilly Clautice, Senior Ms. America 1999 is a superstar to her family and a model for people of all ages.She lives a simple poetic philosophy:“Life is like a flower.It is fragile and must be carefully nurtured to bloom. To me education, energy and a little sparkle are the nutrients of life. I believe in reaching out to others, picking flowers before it’s too late and touching the lives of many. Everyone needs to be somebody to some one. My bouquet to you, “Remember, if your mind can receive it, and your heart can believe it, then your body can achieve it.”
You don’t have to get a Haircut to enjoy good Barbershop Music
The Harbor City Harmonizers of Melbourne will present their fifteenth annual show, "The Afterglow" on April 9th in performances at and at the Gleason Performing Arts Center, in Melbourne.
Barbershop music is unlike any other choral type music.Al Dreppard, of the Harmonizers says, “The thrill of four part harmony sung properly is beyond description.”He explained that Barbershop harmony must include a particular type of chord structure that is not found in any other type of music, including a specific chord known as the "seventh chord.Barbershop singers, whether only four, or as many as forty or four-hundred, seriously practice to produce what is called the overtone: a note that is very high and fits into the chord even though nobody is singing it. To singers and audiences alike, the thrill of that audible "unsung" note is wonderful to produce and delightful to hear.
This year’s show features the award winning Harmonizer Chorus, directed by Duane McCarter who moved to Florida in 2002 with his family from Gilford, New Hampshire and now lives in Titusville.Although a baritone by choice, McCarter can sing all four parts of the unique "seventh" chord contained in Barbershop music.
Some may think that Barbershop singing is an “old man’s” hobby.16 year old Jason Lee would be the first to disagree with you.The Harmonizer’s director has been singing Barbershop since he was 13, and the Harmonizers are always looking for youthful voices to enhance their sound.Four part harmony brings men as young as 16 years old to a level equal to those who are 80 and still singing with strong voices. The enthusiasm and joy provide by the Barbershop singers floats effortlessly from the voices of the singers to fill the audience.
The Afterglow will host two talented and impressive quartets: the Dallas Knights, and the Hotshots, among other surprises for their audience.
The Dallas Knights are a modern a cappella quartet which sings four-part harmony in a blend of many different styles including Barbershop, Jazz, Pop, Comedy and Gospel.
The Hotshots, from Fort Lauderdale, have entertained audiences throughout Florida with their unique style of vocal comedy and song.
The Afterglow will provide the setting for a musical family reunion, when Harmonizer Lonny Borts and his wife Beverly will welcome their sons Andrew and Michael to the stage. Michael Borts is the Lead singer of the Dallas Knights and Andrew Borts is the Lead singer of the Hotshots.Lonny will also perform on the show with his quartet Orpheum Circuit, as their Bass singer. This will be the first time that Lonny and his sons have performed on the same stage.The Borts’ daughter Joanne will also be in the audience to watch her dad and brothers perform. Joanne has extensive experience on the New York Broadway stage having appeared in productions of Fiddler On The Roof, Cinderella and Funny Girl.
The audiences who watch The Afterglow performances will recognize more than four part harmony, familiar songs, and the elusive seventh chord.They will appreciate the genuine camaraderie that has developed among the different groups.Barbershop singing is not only about the music, though the music is the glue that binds these men in their joy of singing the unique Barbershop Harmony.
"The Afterglow" begins April 9th at and at the Gleason Performing Arts Center, Florida Tech Campus, University Blvd and Babcock Streets, Melbourne.Tickets are $15 each.