Takoma Pork Winter 2006 Issue
Folk Festival
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Folk Festival to Add Dinner Theater in 2006

Winter 2006

Chairperson Kevin Adler lobbies the Folk Festival committee to choose Cats for the new production.

TAKOMA PARK, MD—The 29th annual Takoma Park Folk Festival will come with a new twist in September 2006 – a dinner theater.

The Festival is known for having great music, great dance, and great food,” said Kevin Adler, Festival Chairman. “We thought, let’s just put it all together in one unforgettable package.”

Credit for the idea goes to Festival committee member Nancy Nickell, who suggested it after visiting her elderly parents in Florida. “I saw ‘Hello Dolly’ at the Hialeah Dinner Theater, and…I was transported to another place and time. I came home whistling the tunes,” said Nickell. “I said to myself, we can do that here.”

Nickell’s idea was immediately and enthusiastically embraced. “Frankly, we felt that our music was getting a little stale,” admitted Catherine Chapman, co-chair of the Festival program. “You can only listen to so many protest songs before they all sound the same. Plus, the singer-songwriters we attract are so negative. Let’s do some great music that celebrates at the same time – like ‘Flashdance.’”

Adler added, “A few of us have had it up to here with those twangy, out-of-tune banjos. Is there some rule that we have to have, like, a dozen banjos each year?”

The dinner theater will be held in the large gymnasium where the Festival previously offered dance workshops. The idea of the workshops is to introduce novices to new dances and to extend dance traditions to a new generation. But at least one supporter of the Festival thinks that the reality of the workshops never matched the intent.

“To tell you the truth, the dance demonstrations and workshops are sort of lame. Who needs to see a few dozen people embarrassing themselves by trying to learn the salsa in 40 minutes?” said Robbi Kimball, a Festival committee member. “You call that dancing? Wait ‘til they see some real hoofers onstage this year.”

Presently, a Festival subcommittee is hard at work deciding which play to produce in 2006. The members are working from a recent listing by Parade Magazine of “America’s Most Loved Broadway Musicals and the Former Pop Stars Who Made Them Great.”

To make their selection, Festival committee members are watching movies of the great musicals and trying to imagine producing them in a gymnasium in Takoma Park on a budget of perhaps $300. “Unfortunately, we don’t have the funds to go to New York to see live plays,” said Nickell. “I hear that Huey Lewis is fantastic in the revival of ‘Chicago.’”

Takoma Park residents are encouraged to suggest plays for consideration, but Adler asked that “nothing heavy” be proposed. “The Festival isn’t trying to send a political message,” he said. “And for heaven’s sakes, don’t tell us to do ‘Hair.’ That’s the old image of Takoma Park. Forget it.”

Committee members admit that the final decision will be difficult. Tension is reportedly building between the faction that favors “South Pacific” and the one that favors “Cats.” 

Of course, food is the other critical element of any successful dinner theater, and that’s where the Festival is leaving nothing to chance. The dinner will be catered by Red Lobster, which opened to acclaim two years ago in downtown Silver Spring. “Maybe it’s not politically correct to hire a chain restaurant. But Red Lobster is all-class,” said Adler. “There’s nothing that screams ‘classy’ like a seafood buffet.”

In keeping with the high-class tenor of the dinner theater, the Folk Festival will institute a dress code. Jeans and sandals, and especially tie-dye, will be prohibited. “We hope to set a new standard in this town,” said Adler. “I don’t see why we can’t look good and have a nice, civilized event like they do all the time in Gaithersburg.”


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