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Photo review: Follies takes Belmont to camp in zany opening show

The Fall Follies crew delivered yet another satisfying — some might say “campy” — performance on the opening night of their 23rd annual show Thursday.

With a new “Fall Follies Goes To Camp” theme, interlude music from Belmont legend Stephen Day and a cast featuring a healthy mix of Follies veterans and newbies, the Belmont comedy troupe performed a nearly two-hour show to a crowd of students who had been lining the sidewalks outside MPAC for hours before doors even opened.

Those students weren’t disappointed.

Fall Follies 2017

For the sake of spoilers — Han dies at the end — I won’t go into large detail about any of the sketches. But to use broad strokes, there’s a rooster head, cat paws, a fourth wall breaking “superhero,” an obligatory, yet hilarious “Hamilton” reference and much, much more.

If that sounded like a confusing grab bag of zany characters and punchlines, you might be right on track, and in fact that may have been where this newest brand of Follies found its stride.

In past years, Follies has seemed to lean into either two categories: heavy on the Belmont-roasting jokes, or heavy on the “what is even happening right now” humor that people like me absolutely adore.

And while it may be disappointing for those who attend Follies for an annual roast of Belmont’s biggest blunders and quirky characteristics — the Bruin Books sketch was noticeably missing — this show seemed to trend toward the latter, with most sketches starting at point A, moving to point 2 and ending on point Z. And most of the time, it paid off dozens of times over.

And sometimes it didn’t — there was a sketch involving cavemen establishing a prehistoric code of ethics that I’m still on the fence about — but in the grand scheme of things, those moments were few and far between.

Also worth noting was Day’s interlude music. In previous Follies shows, the band has been nothing more than a way to fill what would otherwise be an awkward silence of stage hands bringing out set pieces, but Day and Co. took a more active role in the show.

Without giving any specifics, Day delivers a truly gut-busting running joke throughout the show. It was an excellent touch, and a clever way to keep the “camp” theme going, even if the main sketches dropped it after the opening musical number.

Overall, Follies 23rd annual show was worth the wait. There are some people who might not enjoy the more zany, sometimes even surprisingly dark sketches — I’m looking at you, CatMan — but for those people, there is still plenty of Belmont-related humor that you’ll be able to enjoy.

So grab a friend or two, show up early and catch the next two performances of Fall Follies.

Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Massey Performing Arts Center.

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