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Performer Match: Esther's Follies

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Esther's Follies: The Laughs, the Gossip, and the Story Behind Texas' Most Celebrated Comedy Troupe
In his history of Esther's Follies, author Jesse Sublett follows the flow of four decades of frivolity
Arts Story  November 30, 2017, by Robert Faires
"...To give you an idea of just how long Esther's Follies has been peddling its singular blend of satire, music, and magic to delighted Austinites, one of its first signature characters, the one who opened every show in the storied early years, was Ruth Carter Stapleton. That name may not mean much today, especially for folks whose only point of reference for Jimmy Carter is swingin' a hammer for Habitat for Humanity..."

Follies Faithfuls
Esther's Most Loyal Laughers
Arts Story  July 14, 1995
"...Often. More than anything, that's why they visit that corner of Sixth Street again and again. The Follies always make them laugh. They are the Esther's regulars, the hardcore fans of Austin's musical comedy revue, the ones who have seen Shannon Sedwick and crew dozens of times, who visit them at least a few times every year (some many more than that), who bring friends and family along to baptize them in the joys of the Follies..."

Esther's Follies: Forever Young
Even after 23 years, Austin's favorite musical comedy group, Esther's Follies, is still lively, still spirited, and the perpetual briskness and animation, the audaciousness and cheeky style, rub off on you, so that every visit is rejuvenating.
Arts Story  May 26, 2000, by Robert Faires
"...That's politics by the Pool -- Esther's Pool, of course, where Jerome Schoolar's vice-president is so stiff, he has to be wheeled in on a dolly, and Kerry Awn's George W-dot-com Bush is a party-hearty good ol' boy who boasts for the record that he didn't exhale and, as for cocaine, he just likes "the way it smells." The Esther's crew has long had a knack for treating our civic leaders and public servants with a blend of irreverence, high-minded satire, and low humor that provokes maximum laughs -- and usually without sacrificing a point. It's reassuring to see that tradition endure in the Follies' 23rd year; it means that while politicans may be able to fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, at Esther's they'll be the fools to all of the people all of the time...."

Esther's Follies
Laughmeister Kerry Awn retires from the Follies – and is twice as busy as before
Arts Story  March 18, 2011, by Robert Faires
"...This year, Kerry Awn has been able to enjoy something that's been out of reach for 30 years: weekend nights at home. That's because Austin's beloved triple threat – master of art, comedy, and music – has finally given up his three-decade standing gig as a regular with Esther's Follies..."

Esther's Follies
Esther's alumnus Derek Reid returns from L.A. to show us how funny Obama can be
Arts Story  December 12, 2008, by Barry Pineo
"...What it was, was Esther's Follies, and after a scant year, Reid found himself performing there, playing Colin Powell and Michael Irvin and writing a lot of film parodies. "I can't tell you how cool it was being 21 years old and making a living as a sketch comedian," enthuses Reid..."

Why Did Esther's Follies' Ray Anderson Go to L.A.?
To get a career-defining award from the Magic Castle, of course
DAILY Arts  May 1, 2018, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...Actually, it’s because the longtime Esther’s Follies phenom has so often done such things as, WTF, walking through the haunted mirror from Austin’s Driskill Hotel – and has done so with his uniquely charming style and panache – that he was awarded a Performing Fellowship from the wizardly Academy just a week ago...."

'The Will Rogers Follies': Back in the Saddle Again
For the creative team on the new national tour of 'The Will Rogers Follies,' working on the show is like slipping into a broken-in pair of old boots
Arts Story  August 26, 2005, by Robert Faires
"...You know how it feels to slip into a broken-in pair of old boots? The ease, the comfort, the just plain rightness of it? Well, that's the way it is for much of the creative team on the new production of The Will Rogers Follies, launching its national tour at Bass Concert Hall this weekend. Director and choreographer Steven Minning was Tommy Tune's choreographic associate on the original Broadway production, and Assistant Choreographer Eileen Grace was one of the Ziegfeld girls and the show's dance captain for 21Ú2 years of that Broadway run..."

Esther's Follies: ROT Rally Raconteurs
Kerry Awn hosts a stand-up showcase for everyone high on the hogs
DAILY Arts  June 10, 2015, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...Not at the Velveeta Room, as you might've expected (because you know what a fierce epicenter of local and out-of-state laffmeisters that joint usually is), but at Esther's Follies...."

Cindy Wood at Esther's Follies
April 3, 2014. 8 photos.
PHOTO GALLERY  April 3, 2014
"...Wood, Mary Lang, and Linda Wetherby in one of the Follies' signature musical spoofs, Westward Hose..."

Election Follies
Pressley contests D4 election, Zimmerman in ethics trouble
News Story  February 12, 2015, by Amy Kamp and Michael King

Page Three: Council Follies Are No Joke
City leaders prep for another multimillion dollar giveaway (shhh, don't talk about it; you'll ruin it)
Columns  December 14, 2012, by Nick Barbaro

Page Two: Fact-Free Follies
More fun from the wacky world of right-wing zealots
Columns  September 30, 2011, by Louis Black

Facebook Follies
A hunky man and a logo are "inappropriate" for a Gay Pride ad on Facebook???
DAILY Qmmunity  April 30, 2009, by Kate X Messer

More Pictures from the DNC Mile High Follies
More pictures from the DNC follies in Denver
DAILY News  August 28, 2008, by Jordan Smith

WilCo Follies
Was it OK for a deputy to shoot a suicidal man holding a gun to his own head? The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will soon weigh in.
News Story  June 27, 2008, by Patricia J. Ruland

West Lake Follies: Attraction and repulsion
Mayors, guns, and money ... a lot of money
News Story  May 9, 2008, by Richard Whittaker

Titicut Follies
Wiseman filmed conditions in the Bridgeport Mental Hospital with a bare minimum of crew and equipment, which resulted in a devastatingly candid view of life behind the high walls of a state mental hospital for the criminally insane.
Film Review  July 10, 1992, by Kathleen Maher

Pool Partiers
Taking Stock of the Esther's Follies Families
Arts Story  October 10, 1997, by Robert Faires
"...photograph by Alan Pogue You can't really talk about the Austin of the last 20 years without talking about Esther's Follies. This homegrown comedy troupe is part of the city's history..."

Bats Left, Sings Right
With help from Esther's Follies, Austin Lyric Opera turns Strauss' Viennese waltz into a Texas two-step
Arts Story  May 30, 2008, by Robert Faires
"...So it's only fitting and (im)proper that our own masters of mockery at Esther's Follies get to poke opera in the eye with a sharp stick...."

LipSchtick Traces
When Cindy Wood scores the big laughs at Esther's Follies, she's channeling comedy's funniest femmes
Arts Story  April 4, 2014, by Robert Faires
"...To be clear: The breasts in question are not, strictly speaking, Cindy Wood's. Rather, they're the comically outsized and low-slung fabric breasts stuffed in the old-lady outfit Wood is wearing, along with cat-eye specs and silvery wig, to grant her a grandmotherly aspect for this Esther's Follies sketch..."

Esther's Alumna Joins 'SNL' Cast
Former Follies performer Noël Wells debuts in season premiere tonight
DAILY Arts  September 28, 2013, by Robert Faires
"...When legendary broadcaster Don Pardo introduces the Saturday Night Live cast in tonight's season premiere, he'll warble one name with an Austin comedy connection. Noël Wells, one of five new regulars in the cast, was a performer with Esther's Follies from 2006 to 2009, and she's the first alum to make the leap to SNL...."

Legerdemain Man Ray Anderson
The fact that magicians around the world revere the magic man of Esther’s Follies is no illusion
Arts Story  November 29, 2018, by Jesse Sublett
"...Are those bright lights in the night sky we've been seeing lately a comet on a doomsday collision course or spotlights from West Coast entertainment capitals, hungrily seeking out Ray Anderson, Austin's much-loved magician, illusionist, and longtime MVP of Esther's Follies? Could be both, actually, but in these pages, I'm only allowed to talk about Ray Anderson...."

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
A soldier returns home in Ang Lee's war movie
Film Review  November 23, 2016, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...These various strands roll through Billy’s mind like scenes in a Mattel View-Master, but none gain much emotional momentum or dramatic weight. The absurdities never amount to a Catch-22, and the follies never add up to a Slaughterhouse Five..."

One Ounce Opera's There's Beauty in the Beast
The new operetta by Esther's Follies veterans Michael Nesline and Steve Saugey played Frankenstein for laughs but also found its heart
Arts Review  November 5, 2015, by Robert Faires
"...Creators Michael Nesline and Steve Saugey, whose comedy careers go back to the early years of Esther's Follies, scarcely let a minute go by without tossing in a gag of some kind, and they were as likely to draw from Broadway and TV as the novel or any of its legion of celluloid adaptations: A padre arrived with news of a mob of torch-bearing villagers by singing "City on fi-re!" (another Sweeney reference); Victor ended conversations with a snatch of Carol Burnett's signature sign-off, "I'm so glad we had this time together ..." The savvy irreverence, vaudevillian pacing, and brevity of it all – even with a pair of intermissions, the operetta's three acts were covered in 45 minutes – called to mind old Warner Bros. cartoons, and one in particular: the Bugs-and-Elmer Wagnerian spoof, "What's Opera, Doc?"..."

Doug Jaques: In Memoriam
Remembering the great Austin muralist and teacher
DAILY Arts  April 12, 2013, by Robert Faires
"...Doug Jaques, the gifted painter who created the signature underwater scene for the interior of Esther's Follies – twice! – as well as murals adorning the walls of Liberty Lunch, Vreeland Graphics, the Austin Community College Eastview Campus, the building on 24th at Guadalupe, and many others, has died. He was 67...."

Your Highness
This vulgar medieval travesty is awfully good fun when it works.
Film Review  April 8, 2011, by Marc Savlov
"...King Tallious (Dance) orders the vengeful Fabious and the reluctant Thadeous to pursue Leezar – who plans to mate with Belladonna and birth a dragon, or something equally icky – and return the bride-to-be to her proper place in the kingdom. Dick-joke follies ensue, with inspired (if extremely warped) bits of gorge-rising yuks coming from all corners..."

Mike Judge, the writer/director of Office Space, mines the workplace for more satiric comedy.
Film Review  September 4, 2009, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...Now, for Labor Day weekend, Judge is back with another workplace comedy and though this new film lacks the fiercely satirical bite of Office Space and Idiocracy, Extract is hardly toothless. The comedy this time is on a broader scale, spread out among more characters and targeted more toward human follies than cultural institutions..."

The Price of 1,000 Songs
'Ordinary Peephole' celebrates the delights of songwriter Dick Price
DAILY Arts  January 20, 2013, by Robert Faires
"...If you were listing Austin's top songwriters, Dick Price might not be a name you'd rush to include – unless you were Matt Hislope. As one-half of the Rubber Repertory creative team, the Esther's Follies star co-produced two revues of Price's songs, and tonight he opens a third: Ordinary Peephole: The Songs of Dick Price...."

Where Are They Now?
Arts Story  October 10, 1997
"...Like most families, the Follies has had members leave home and settle in a variety of different places. Some have continued to perform; others have taken careers in other fields..."

Esther's All-Stars
Arts Story  July 29, 1999, by J. C. Shakespeare
"...If Yankee Stadium is "the house that Ruth built," then Esther's Pool must be "the funhouse that Shannon and Michael built." In the same way that tens of thousands of New Yorkers still stream north from Manhattan to watch their beloved Bronx Bombers decades after Ruth's legendary tenure, so do tens of Austinites clog the sidewalk outside the brightly colored human aquarium on the corner of Sixth and Red River to see the treasured musical comedy revue founded in Austin 22 years ago. And just as the Yankees have established a baseball dynasty by continuously luring many of the game's most stellar players to their team, Esther's Follies has managed to build a thriving comedy institution known across the state and the country by perpetually fielding an all-star cast of musical, magical, theatrical, and comedic players...."

SXSW Comedy: Your 2015 Lineup
Schumer, Harmon, Bell, and SNL lead this year's laugh-makers
DAILY SXSW  February 23, 2015, by Robert Faires
"...They'll drop by An Above Average Evening With the Upright Citizens Brigade, featuring Matt Besser, a co-founder of the powerhouse comedy group; SNL writers Mike O'Brien and Tim Robinson. (Sun., March 14, 4pm, Esther's Follies)..."

The Whole Package
With Margaret Wiley, you didn’t have a one-trick pony; you had a multitude of talents and personalities in one big and big-hearted woman. Wiley’s friends and colleagues at Esther’s Follies offer their memories of this exceptional Austin comedian who died November 2.
Arts Story  November 12, 1999, by Robert Faires
"...In talking about Margaret Wiley, it's hard to know where to start: with the performer, that commanding presence whose drop-dead sense of timing invariably left audiences at Esther's Follies weak with laughter and gasping for breath? With the writer, that bawdy satirist who could skewer Tammy Faye Bakker with songs by The Who and deliver 1,001 inspired uses for a Maxi-Pad? With the costumer, the ceaselessly inventive designer of Easter bonnets shaped like cuts of meat and of giant phalluses? With the regal show biz vet, alternately terrorizing and nurturing the dozens of young talents that crossed the Esther's stage? With the dreamer, jumping from sketch scripts to screenplays, decorating to designing, always looking for another way to stretch her talents? With Wiley, you didn't have a one-trick pony; you had a multitude of talents and personalities in one big and big-hearted woman. You had, in castmate Tamara Beland's words, "the whole package." Wiley died unexpectedly on November 2, and in recognition of this exceptional woman and the hundreds of thousands of Austinites whose lives she touched during her 20 years with Esther's, the Chronicle presents these memories of Margaret Wiley from her friends and colleagues at the Follies, as well as a few words celebrating the comedian that have appeared in these pages through the years..."

Remembering Esther's Follies comedienne Margaret Wiley, who died November 2.
Arts Column  November 5, 1999, by Robert Faires
"...Margaret Wiley, the creator and alter ego of Chi Chi La Bomba, the Mother of All Hot Mamas and one of the signature characters of Esther's Follies, has died. The brilliant comic writer and performer was found dead in her home around noon on Tuesday, November 2..."

Turning Tricks With The Amazing Ray
With nothing up his sleeve, Esther's Follies resident magic man Ray Anderson pulls wonder -- and laughter -- out of thin air.
Arts Story  September 5, 2003, by Robert Faires
"...And they adore being mystified by him, especially when he magically transforms their gasps of wonder into gut-shaking guffaws. His illusions, which are frequently, you might say, tricked out with comic banter and outrageous characters, are so entertaining, they're staged with such showmanship and finesse and comedic flair, that they've become staples at Esther's Follies and made Ray Anderson not only one of the Austin comedy revue's bona fide stars, but a magician known and respected by his peers in the profession as well...."

Esther's Gene Pool
Arts Story  October 10, 1997
"...During its 20-year history, Esther's Follies has had four homes: the original Pool, 515 E. Sixth, which was destroyed by a fire on October 12, 1983; The Ritz, 320 E..."

Esther's Follies
Using inventive props, puppets, costumes, and live music, the gang at Esther's Follies stuffs fast-paced skits, political satire, and illusions into a tightly compacted show
Arts Review  April 16, 2004, by Heather Barfield Cole
"...Esther's FolliesEsther's Pool, ongoing..."

Arts Review  December 18, 1998

Okay, Everybody– Back Into the Pool!
Esther's Pool, that is: Winning fools, grooving stars.
DAILY Arts  September 11, 2012, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...And we're specifically invoking DFW because, well, because we're rather a crew of Wallaceites up in here – but also because there are plenty of fish in Esther's Pool. Of course, the venue that Esther's Follies has operated out of for 35 years now is inspired by the pools used by Esther Williams in all those synchronized-swimming fantasias from days of cinema gone by, where any cetacean would've been swiftly killed by the chlorine solution..."

Shannon Sedwick
The once and future queen of Esther's Follies receives a special B. Iden Payne award
Arts Story  October 16, 2009, by Robert Faires
"...Shannon Sedwick may not have been as nonplussed as the president when he was notified about his Nobel, but the co-founder and star of Esther's Follies was nevertheless surprised when she heard that she was the recipient of this year's special B. Iden Payne award recognizing outstanding contributions to Austin theatre..."

Bubba and Babe's Backwoods Texas Wedding
Dinner-theatre nuptials, Texas-style
Arts Story  November 23, 2007, by Elizabeth Cobbe
"...Or maybe not. Bubba and Babe's Backwoods Texas Wedding, the new venture by the Esther's Follies company, serves up all of that and more for dinner-theatre audiences at Patsy's Cowgirl Cafe..."

Re-Re-Re-Re-Reopening Night
The Ritz: Talkie theatre, cowboy hangout, playhouse, comedy and punk club, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
Screens Story  November 2, 2007, by Marc Savlov
"...After all, the ghosts are already here. They've been queuing up for the past 78 years, in fact, cosmic cowboys and Indians, Vincent Price and Gamera, Glenn Danzig, Ian MacKaye, and Esther's Follies, all, at one point or another, under the same sagging roof, on the same, ever-changing block, for 78 years and counting. A Brief History of the Ritz, or, Leonard Nimoy Meets Minor Threat..."

In Memoriam: Bill Fagan
Arts Story  January 14, 2005, by Robert Faires
"...One of the leading lights of Esther's Follies' early years is gone. Bill Fagan, a gifted comedian and writer, passed away in San Antonio on the first day of the new year..."

Arts Stalwarts
Twelve of Austin's cultural heroes will be inducted into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame at the 2003 Austin Critics Table Awards ceremony, and here is an introduction to them and some of their significant contributions to the local arts scene.
Arts Story  May 30, 2003, by Robert Faires
"...Then, in 1970, when legendary philanthropist Ima Hogg challenged Ayres to stage something by the Bard in a barn on UT's Winedale property 90 miles from Austin, Ayres founded the Shakespeare at Winedale program. Now in its 33rd year and known the world over, the program has given hundreds of students a deeper appreciation of the Bard and greatly affected Austin theatre, inspiring alums to theatrical endeavors in Esther's Follies, Boxtree Players, Rude Mechanicals, Austin Shakespeare Festival, Bedlam Faction, and many other companies..."

Is Anybody Laughing?
In the midst of economic hard times and a wave of terrorist attacks, the comedy business wonders what's funny.
Arts Story  October 19, 2001, by Robert Faires
"...Look at some of the comedy shops in Austin, and you'll see how true that is. How long has Shannon Sedwick been pulling half a hardware store out of the top of her dress while she sings Patsy Cline's "Little Things" down at Esther's Pool? Oh, only a couple of decades, yet audiences never seem to tire of it, so it's become a staple at the Follies..."

Summer of Laugh
This Year, Austin Comics Got Really Hot
Arts Story  October 3, 1997, by Adrienne Martini
"..."I'm just sweating it out," Hester says. "I'm really just waiting to see what is going to happen with the New York stuff." Esther's Follies: A Lively Summer..."

The Austin Ch30nicles
Shannon Sedwick recalls the Chronicle's recognition of Esther's Follies' first star
Arts Story  September 2, 2011
"...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..."

In Memoriam
Austin juggling sensation Warren "Red" Ryder Schwartz, who opened for Esther's Follies for almost 20 years, was stabbed to death on Sunday, May 28
Arts Story  June 9, 2006, by Robert Faires
"...But the dream was cut short tragically on Sunday, May 28, when Warren "Red" Ryder Schwartz was stabbed in the parking lot of an apartment complex in South Austin. Although he was continuing to work at Esther's Follies, as he had on and off for almost 20 years, Schwartz had been struggling for years with drug addiction and in the preceding year had gone through a divorce and lost his home..."

Music to Chortle By
Whenever Steve Saugey and Lyova Rosanoff are at the keyboards, musical shenanigans are the natural order, especially when these two pianist-parodists are spoofing classical music through one of their Forbidden Classics programs.
Arts Story  January 11, 2002, by Robert Faires
"...Most of these send-ups have been performed at Esther's Follies, where Rosanoff and Saugey have long histories, but occasionally they've been showcased in independent events such as the Austin Flops Orchestra or Forbidden Classics. A new edition of the latter, headlined by Saugey and Rosanoff, opens this week, which is cause for rejoicing..."

The Will Rogers Follies
More than the life of Will Rogers, The Will Rogers Follies is about production values, singing, dancing -- entertainment with a capital "E" -- but with its poorly executed set, distracting costumes, problematic lighting and sound, the 43rd annual Zilker Summer Musical production is unable to deliver.
Arts Review  July 20, 2001, by Barry Pineo
"...The Will Rogers Follies: Entertainment, Small 'E'Beverly Sheffield Zilker Hillside Theatre,..."

Too Dumb to Die
A profile of Austin's longest-running musical parody, the Uranium Savages.
Music Story  December 10, 1999, by Margaret Moser
"...I gave [poster artist] Jim Franklin $1,000 to help open it. What a mistake," smirks Kerry Fitzgerald, aka Kerry Awn, himself a noted poster artist and current Esther's Follies star, talking about the Sixth Street theatre's first incarnation as a music venue..."

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