Maurice Hendricks, a baritone with the Knoxville Opera and the Marble City Opera, will solo the reprise of “Let My People Golf” in the 40th annual Front Page Follies June 14 at the Bijou Theatre. The cast of local media folks and friends is ready to present the musical revue of the year’s news and newsmakers.
Front Page Follies offers an evening of laughs as the Front Page Foundation, host of the show, raises funds for journalism and broadcast scholarships and media education programs for students.
“I got an email from a friend saying they were looking for someone to sing this song,” says Hendricks, who won the Encouraging Award in national auditions for the New York Metropolitan Opera. “I like being involved in all-around fun craziness as an artist, meeting and singing with new people, and networking. So I said yes, let’s do it!”
The song, “Let My People Golf”, skewers the attitudes that prevented then-University of Tennessee basketball coach Wade Huston, an African-American hired in 1989, from joining a local country club. “It’s interesting to see that situation was only in 1989, not in the ‘60s,” Hendricks says. “We’ve come a long way but still have a long way to go.”
Marketing professional and former Knoxville television news anchor Adina Chumley will reprise her role as Sarah Palin in the Follies, opening the show with a Palin-inspired fire announcement. Her performance will be among nine Follies’ flashbacks and 27 new songs in the 40th anniversary show.
“I’ve often called the Front Page Follies the Saturday Night Live of Knoxville…Of course, this year it’s going to be on Thursday,” she says.
Also on stage will be David Lauver, of Write Angle Communications, the Follies scriptwriter for all 40 years of shows, who adds polish and pun to the show roasting newsmakers for a good cause.
“And I have yet to be in step in a single dance number,” admits Lauver, a published songwriter who has appeared live or in a recording for the run of the show.
Another flashback will be “Stand by Our Brand,” from 2015, inspired by the controversial, and now revoked, decision to drop the Lady Vols name for all UT women’s sports teams except basketball, with special guest Dr. Sharon Lord, international consultant and author. Other guests will be Anne McKinney, of McKinney & Tillman, PC, and Kristin Farley and Bo Williams, of WATE 6 On Your Side.
Lori Tucker, WATE-TV news anchor, will be the honoree at the Follies. Journalism and broadcast scholarships will be presented in Tucker’s honor at UT and Pellissippi State Community College.
The Follies cast also includes Melony Dodson, WUOT, 91.9 FM; Jere Doherty, Knoxville Choral Society; Lizzie Elliott, Knoxville Opera; Margaret Elliott, of Elliott Avenue; Emily Helton, Flying Anvil Theatre; Mike Howard, Encore Theatrical Company; Megan Jones, WATE-TV; Myranda McGhee, the E.W. Scripps Company; John McNair, UT College of Communications and Information; Frank Murphy, Classic Hits 93.1 WNOX; Bruce Patrick, the E.W. Scripps Company; Ernie Roberts, East Tennessee PBS; Geoff Scheer, Access Communications; and Callie Stelter, formerly with Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre.
Terry Silver-Alford, UT Theatre Department faculty member who has directed Clarence Brown Theatre productions, is the Follies’ director and accompanist. Guests from local television newsrooms will be Amanda Ketchledge, WATE-TV; Casey Wheeless, WVLT-TV; and Beth Haynes, WBIR-TV. Meteorologists in the Follies will be Matt Hinkin, WATE-TV; David Aldrich, WVLT-TV; and Todd Howell, WBIR-TV.
Media sponsors for this year’s Follies are East Tennessee PBS, Classic Hits 93.1 WNOX, and VIP Knoxville Magazine.
Tickets to the event will range from $25 for balcony seating to $150 for VIP seating with a reception before the Follies with Tucker and the cast on the stage of the Bijou. Tickets are available on the Bijou Theatre web site, www.knoxbijou.org, and on the Front Page Foundation web site, www.frontpagefoundation.org.