Will Rogers Follies Tour to Resume Performances Sept. 23 Following Tragedy

News   Will Rogers Follies Tour to Resume Performances Sept. 23 Following Tragedy
The Phoenix Productions tour of The Will Rogers Follies — starring country music singer Larry Gatlin as the legendary Oklahoma-born humorist — has been temporarily postponed following a Sept. 12 accident. It will resume performances Sept. 23.
Larry Gatlin in The Will Rogers Follies.
Larry Gatlin in The Will Rogers Follies.

One of the company's tractor trailers was involved in an accident en route to the Lutcher Theatre in Orange, TX. The truck, which fell off a bridge and into a ravine, caught fire, and the driver of the vehicle was killed. Hard scenic pieces and props, which were contained in the trailer, sustained some damage. The Will Rogers company did perform a concert version of the musical at the Lutcher Theatre in Orange, TX, that evening utilizing materials from the company's other trucks.

Stephen Kane, a producer for Phoenix Entertainment, told Playbill.com that "repairs are currently underway, and performances will resume [Sept. 23] in Yakima, WA" at the Capitol Theatre. The company is also in the process of rescheduling the performances that were scheduled for the Orange, TX, run.

Kane also said that the late driver was a respected employee of JANCO, Ltd., who had been moving Phoenix shows for nearly a decade.

The current Will Rogers Follies tour opened in Austin, Texas, and recently played the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth. The tour is currently booked through June 2006.

For tickets to the upcoming engagement in Yakima, WA, at the Capitol Theatre, call (509) 853-2787. *

In the musical, which has a book by Peter Stone, Will Rogers narrates his life story through a series of spectacular Ziegfeld Follies-like production numbers "with magnificent sets, dazzling costumes and catchy songs. He's bringing his wife, father, sisters, his wife's sisters, his kids and a bunch of acrobatic dogs."

Star Larry Gatlin made his Broadway debut in the splashy 1991 Will Rogers Follies, which features a score by Cy Coleman, Betty Comden and Adolph Green. He also appeared on tour with the show, which was first directed and choreographed by Tommy Tune. Gatlin is probably best known as a singer and as one of the three Gatlin Brothers, but is also a songwriter, author and actor.

The new production's director-choreographer is Steve Minning, a protégé to Tony Award winner Tommy Tune. The set design is by Tony Walton from the original touring design, with costumes by Willa Kim, lighting design by Mike Baldassari and sound design by Craig Cassidy.

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