The Austin Ch30nicles
Shannon Sedwick recalls the Chronicle's recognition of Esther's Follies' first star
Remember That Issue ... When the Diva Came Out?
Esther's Follies and The Austin Chronicle have always had a close relationship. The Chronicle was the one to proclaim the Follies' first "star," William Dente, aka Dame Della Diva, as a unique Austin phenomenon, a man equally at home honking like a goose, shrieking a high C, and wearing white athletic socks under his beaded ball gown as he hiked up his skirt to pee outside the old Esther's two-story dressing room. When our original theatre burned down, the Chronicle ran a simple photo that told it all: Lyova Rosanoff's piano, blackened and surrounded by rubble in the ruins of the fire. It woke me up to the special relationship that Esther's had with the city, not just one of a troupe of players getting a new show up each weekend, but a fierce love of "let's make fun of ourselves and damn anybody without a sense of humor!" We felt like we meant something important to the good vibes of Austin. People loaned us theatre seats and threw benefits, and that in turn made me reach out and get involved in Sixth Street and Downtown revitalization. The Chronicle mirrors what's best about Austin and reminds me every week how much I love being a part of it.
– Shannon Sedwick, co-founder and matriarch of Esther's Follies