For about three decades, Warner Robins High School’s production of “The Follies” was a must-see event. The show, which was started in the 1960s, lasted until sometime in the 1980s.
But for one night only, the tradition will be returning to Warner Robins. The one-night event titled, “FOLLIES: A Night Of Stars,” will bring back more than 60 actors, dancers and singers who performed in “The Follies.” A partial list of performers includes Jill Beshears Fant, former Miss Tennessee; Bobbie Eakes, from “The Bold and the Beautiful;” Nadine Cheek, a music professor at Wesleyan College; former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue; and current Miss Georgia Betty Cantrell. Along with the performances, the night will feature a meal and remarks about the influence that “The Follies” and director Ronald P. Barnes had on lives and careers. The All-Band members include Rob Walker, Dave McArel, Al Scarborough, Tony Cooper, Eddie Stone and Mike Harrold. The musical director for the night is Bruce Whitten.
“We wanted to get together and we want to say thanks to Mr. Barnes,” said Max Croft, a Warner Robins High School alum who performed in “The Follies.” “It is going to be a really elegant evening, like the Golden Globes.”
Croft said “The Follies” began when Barnes -- the drama teacher at Warner Robins High -- was asked to work with some students on a talent show.
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“Mr. Barnes really built on it every year. It has been 30 years and more since we did ‘The Follies.’ After all these years, people had been talking about a tribute to Mr. Barnes. When Mr. Horne passed away, Northside did a memorial and it was great, it was wonderful and well-deserved. But we didn’t want to wait until Mr. Barnes had passed away. It is going to be a grand tribute to the good old days -- so many people in Warner Robins experienced the Follies and have great memories of them,” said Croft.
Gary Wilder, another past performer of “The Follies,” said that people came from all over to see the show.
“People just knew how good a show it was, they came from across the Southeast to see it. Typically, we focused on one or two Broadway shows a year along with music and comedy bits. It ran in the spring for about two weeks,” said Wilder.
Wilder, who still performs at his church and with a band, said he still relies on things as a performer that Barnes taught him at Warner Robins High.
“A lot of high schools put on a variety type show -- but this was different from what you would expect. It was a tough ticket to get. Mr. Barnes taught us everything about performing. He encouraged us when we needed it and kicked our butts when we needed it and what came out of it was we learned how to put on a great show,” Wilder said.
“FOLLIES: A Night Of Stars” will be held starting at 5 p.m. July 25. There are a limited number of tickets still available. The event will be held at the Museum of Aviation. Tickets can be purchased at folliestribute.tixato.com/buy.
Alline Kent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 396-2467.