"...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..."
"...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..."
"...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...."
"...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..."
"...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..."
"...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...."
"...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..."
"...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...."
"...Wood, Mary Lang, and Linda Wetherby in one of the Follies' signature musical spoofs, Westward Hose..."
"...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..."
"...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...."
"...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..."
"...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...."
"...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...."
"...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..."
"...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, 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...."
"...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..."
"...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..."
"...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...."
"...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..."
"...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...."
"...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)..."
"...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..."
"...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..."
"...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...."
"...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 FolliesEsther's Pool, ongoing..."
"...ESTHER'S FOLLIES: REFRESHING DIP..."
"...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 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..."
"...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..."
"...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..."
"...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..."
"...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..."
"...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..."
"..."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..."
"...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..."
"...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..."
"...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: Entertainment, Small 'E'Beverly Sheffield Zilker Hillside Theatre,..."
"...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..."