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David Holub

The Follies weren’t her thing, until she found herself in it

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Jerry McBride/BCI Media

The Purple People Eater performs on Tuesday night during the 2017 Snowdown Follies media night at the Durango Arts Center. Hazel Owen, Beth Wyman, Cy Waddell, Margaret Leeder, and Lori Coughlan make up the group.
Ar 170209963
Jerry McBride/BCI Media

The Purple People Eater performs on Tuesday night during the 2017 Snowdown Follies media night at the Durango Arts Center. Hazel Owen, Beth Wyman, Cy Waddell, Margaret Leeder, and Lori Coughlan make up the group.

Last year during Snowdown, I got a surprise message from my friend Lacey Black saying she had an extra seat at the Follies. I was hesitant, as I had just seen the Follies a few nights earlier at the media screening. While the Follies joyfully embody the spirit of Snowdown, it wasn’t exactly my jam with its lewd hijinks, pervasive sexual innuendo and all-around bawdiness (I wasn’t offended – I mean, who gets offended by such things anymore?) I got the strong impression that it was even less of Lacey’s jam.

Which is why I was surprised to hear this week that not only is Lacey going to the Follies again, she’s in it.

In case you’re here from outer space, the Follies take the lowbrow debauchery of Snowdown and condense it into two hours. One Follies performance is like two Saturday nights. The crowd is raucous, inebriated and prone to hooting and heckling. Most of the skits, performed by average ol’ members of the community, would make Benny Hill proud. None of these traits I would associate with Lacey, a Durango native who, while not a stick in the mud, balances a somewhat wholesome public image as a performing musician.

So how did she find herself in the Follies? It was kind of an accident. A friend posted on Facebook that she needed guitar accompaniment on “Me and Bobby McGee.” She didn’t say what the song was for.

“It was like 4 o’clock, the audition was at 7. I show up and I’m like, ‘Ohhh, that’s what this is. Riiiight,’” Lacey said. Still she didn’t plan on committing to anything beyond the audition. For when she’s not performing, she’s likely practicing her hermit skills. Especially in the winter (“but also in the summer”).

“It’s one of those things where you’re at the audition, everyone’s having a good time, and everybody’s nice and you kind of know a lot of people and then you meet some new people,” she said. “And it’s like, what else am I doing in January? Sitting around drinking too much, getting depressed?”

The biggest discouragement in joining the production was the commitment: Nine rehearsals, plus six shows. For some performers, it’s their first time onstage, and however rambunctious and profane the performances are, Lacey said the cast and crew are quite professional, on time, and prepared, and rehearsals are run tightly. In fact, a veteran of rehearsals, Lacey said it was just like any other theater production.

“Directors are there and they’re looking for timing and blocking and stage presence and attitude, coaching people who might not have any performing experience,” she said. “It’s not quite the raucous, like, screaming and yelling – sometimes I guess, if it’s a particularly good moment ... Nobody’s a junk show ... But it’s under the pretext of being kind of raunchy and weird and funny.”

Raunchy, weird, and funny. Exactly how I would describe the Follies. At my second viewing last year, no longer on the clock, free to imbibe, and even yelling lewd unmentionables at the stage, I had an unexpectedly rambunctious good time. But I can’t exactly imagine auditioning. Lacey might have said the same thing a couple of months ago.

“Last year, (as an audience member), it was fun, but I’m not a fan of that type of humor, really. It’s just not my thing. It’s not that I’m offended by it or anything like that ... I was actually not even going to go this year as an audience member. I was like ... I can’t get drunk enough to enjoy this,” she said. “Now, the most surprising thing is that, not only am I enjoying it, I’m probably going to audition again next year, find a way to be a part of it.”