Follies began in the early 1900s as a way for townspeople to entertain a community - long before television was ever imagined. In 1919, one company put a new twist on the idea. They began producing Follies-style variety shows as local fundraisers.
Almost a century later, Jaime Donegan, a native of Indiana who headed for New York City with a dream of the big stage and bright lights, found a fit in directing the musical variety shows as charity fundraisers, working with one of the original Follies companies. When that company folded, he opened his own production company and is now the only producer of Follies shows in the country.
“I love traveling, I love meeting new people and I love getting people out of their comfort zones. It’s a great job for me,” said Donegan, who is directing a Follies show for Junior Service League of LaGrange for the third time.
There’s been a resurgence of interest in dancing with popular television shows like, “Dancing With the Stars.” The LaGrange Follies will feature about 100 performers from 18 years old to 80 years old.
“I don’t usually find such a wide age group,” Donegan said.
The JSL Follies, “Ballroom Blitz,” will be a two-hour variety show that includes everything from comedy to tap dancing to kick-lines. The purpose, however, is more than an opportunity to entertain the community. The League is committed to raising $50,000 for a cancer resource center at West Georgia Health’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“It’s great to bring the community members together for a cause,” Donegan said. “I’ve been here twice before and this show will have more people than any of the others. It’s been a big draw.”
It takes a month to get the show ready, including two weeks of daily rehearsals.
“There’s a lot of dynamics. When it pulls together, it’s great,” Donegan said. “This show is pretty wonderful. It’s been good for League members, not just for raising money, but also for bringing the members and the community together.”
Want to go?
Junior Service League of LaGrange will present “Ballroom Blitz” from 7:30 to 10 p.m. March 23 and 24 at LaGrange High School auditorium. Tickets range from $15 to $25 and are available for purchase online at www.jsloflagrange.com, from any Junior Service League member, at Dairy Queen in LaGrange, or at the door the night of the show. Proceeds benefit a cancer resource center at West Georgia Health’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Sherri Brown can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 706-884-7311, Ext. 240.