By Lyndsie Kiebert
As North Idaho decides which season to put on display this week, the Angels Over Sandpoint are preparing winter’s official sendoff — The Follies adult variety show, this year slated for Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 7.
According to Angels Board Member Kate McAlister, Sandpoint’s most bawdy and politically incorrect annual performance provides a welcome reprieve from shoulder season.
“It comes at a perfect time because everybody is shacky-wacky,” she said. “It’s not winter, it’s not spring. So we want to get out and scream and yell and curse and laugh — have a good time.”
The Follies, now in its 18th year, used to coincide with the Sandpoint Mardi Gras celebration. When that event faded away, the Angels chose to keep the wildly popular Follies fundraiser going, scheduling the show for the first weekend of March, in perpetuity.
It’s a long-held tradition that attendees dress up in costumes to compliment a theme, and this year’s western flavor is a Follies first: “Cowboy Up,” albeit with less iron and more potassium.
“We know that when people dress up like cowboys they like to bring their six-shooters, but we’re not even allowing toy guns, so please bring bananas,” McAlister said.
The Follies this year comes complete with cowboys dancing in cutoff shorts, large condoms into which audience members can deposit their dollar bills, and likely a fair amount of language befitting the saltiest cowpokes. Given its well-known R-rating for “risque, racy and ridiculous” material, attendees must be aged 21 and over.
“It’s more ‘vaudeville burlesque’ — where it’s more innuendo, it’s not graphic,” McAlister said.
“It’s raunchy and risque and so fun,” Angels Board Member Marcia Pilgeram added.
Show organizers — led by Director Dorothy Prophet — hold auditions in January each year with the goal to fill 16-18 show slots with local talent. This year, 30 groups tried out.
“I am shocked at the talent in this town — the caliber. It is as good as any I’ve seen anywhere,” Pilgeram said.
The night will also feature raffles, Follies merchandise and a variety of specialty cocktails for sale. While fun is encouraged, McAlister and Pilgeram emphasized that safety is the Angels’ top priority, so complimentary cab rides will be offered to anyone unfit to drive themselves home.
While The Follies is widely regarded as among the premier events on Sandpoint’s yearly entertainment calendar, there’s no denying that this type of fun might not be for everyone.
“It’s just like anything — if you’re offended, then you don’t need to purchase a ticket,” McAlister said. “But the Angels Over Sandpoint do some amazing things in our town and have for 20 years.”
Some of those things include the annual Back To School program, which provides local children with backpacks and school supplies; monthly donations to support veterans’ health, domestic violence victims and local navigation services, which point people in the right direction when they come forward with needs including firewood, car trouble and more; and numerous scholarships and grants. The Angels have funneled about $1.7 million into the community since the group’s inception in 1997.
“We are all volunteers — 100% volunteers,” Pilgeram said. “And this is the largest fundraiser we do every year.”
So fasten those chaps and pearl-snaps, straighten that 10-gallon hat and slip a banana in your holster this weekend to support a group of volunteers who not only dedicate time to make The Follies a Sandpoint staple, but use the event as a means to make real change in the community.
“We really want to make a difference, not just put a Band-Aid on something,” McAlister said. “We want to make sure that when we do all this hard work as volunteers that the money will help the organization or the individual to succeed and move just a little bit further.”
The Follies (R) • Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 7; doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m.; $30; 21+. The Panida Theater, 300 N. First Ave., 208-263-9191, panida.org. Tickets available at Eichardt’s, Eve’s Leaves and online at brownpapertickets.com by searching “The Follies.”
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