The Will Rogers Follies

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Will Rogers was a unique American who, though he died in 1935, remains a beloved figure remembered for his humor, his wisdom, and his just plain common sense. At the heart of his populist philosophy was his most famous statement: “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Rogers became the biggest, most popular, and highest paid star of every existing medium of his time — stage, screen, radio, newspapers, and public appearances. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that he was the greatest star this country has ever produced.

— Peter Stone, 1994

  • Synopsis
  • Credits
  • Orchestration
  • Rehearsal Materials
  • Brief History
  • Upcoming
  • Will Rogers is famous for saying “I never met a man I didn’t like,” and anyone who has ever seen or performed in WILL ROGERS FOLLIES will agree that there has never been a man-or woman-who did not like it.
    Subtitled “A Life In Revue,” WILL ROGERS stands out among musicals because of the magic of its protagonist. Rare is the man who transcends decades and rises to the level of legend. Will Rogers does this not only because of his accomplishments, but because of his philosophy, which espouses respect and confidence in the goodness of his fellowman.
    The curtain rises on a Follies-style tribute to the man whose daily newspaper column sent America on its way each morning with a smile on its face. In fact Will was a multimedia sensation, performing a weekly radio talk show as well as starring in motion pictures.
    Between rope tricks which entertain the audience while the show girls are changing their costumes for The Follies, Will soothes us with his old-fashioned common sense. The songs Never Met a Man I Didn’t Like and Give a Man Enough Rope are parables set to music.
    Now it’s time to get to know Will, his friends and family. Will introduces us to the aviator Wiley Post, to his six sisters, and to his father Clem. Born to parents who were part Cherokee, Will learned early on to be proud of his heritage.
    When Will turned nineteen, he set off, despite his father’s protests, to be a cowboy down in Argentina. It was at the train depot that Will first laid eyes on Betty Blake, the woman who would become his wife. But how theatrical is that? Not enough, apparently, because Mr. Ziegfeld quickly rewrites history and lowers Betty romantically from the Moon to recreate her first meeting with Will!
    Once married Will tours the country performing his routine until the day his big break arrives, and he is offered a part in Florenz Ziegfeld’s Follies. After six fabulous seasons, Will is called to Hollywood to perform on the silver screen.
    After much success and a run for President in 1928, Will assesses his life. It is time to spend more time at home. Nonetheless, Will is called on to soothe the nation’s jitters after the stock market crash. It seems that his straight talk and simple truths create quite an impact on the nation. You will find that your audience responds in much the same way.
    When Wiley Post and Will lose their lives during a flying adventure in Alaska, the nation mourns its lost friend. The musical version, however, is an upbeat celebration of this folk hero who made the world “a whole lot better place” than it was before he entered it.
    Other delightful musical numbers include Will-a-Mania, It’s a Boy, My Unknown Someone, Presents for Mrs. Rogers and Let’s Go Flying.

  • Book by Peter Stone
    Music Composed and Arranged by Cy Coleman
    Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
    Original New York Production Directed and Choreographed by Tommy Tune
    Inspired by the words of Will and Betty Rogers
    Originally produced on Broadway by Pierre Cossette, Martin Richards, Sam Crothers, James M. Nederlander, Stewart F. Lane and Max Weitzenhofer in association with Japan Satellite Broadcasting, Inc.

  • Full Orchestration

    1 Reed I: Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet & Alto Sax
    1 Reed II: Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet & Alto Sax
    1 Reed III: Flute, Clarinet, Oboe (or Clarinet) and English Horn (or Clarinet)
    1 Reed IV: Flute, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet &Tenor Sax
    1 Reed V: Bass Clarinet, Baritone Sax, Bassoon, (or Bass Clarinet) and Eb Contrabass Clarinet, (or Bass Clarinet)

    1 Horn

    1 Trumpet I & II (both double on Flugelhorn)
    1 Trumpet III (doubling Flugelhorn)
    1 Trombone I (Tenor) (doubling Kazoo)
    1 Trombone II (Tenor)
    1 Trombone III (Bass, doubling Tuba)

    1 Bass (Acoustic & Electric)

    2 Percussion I & II:

    Mallet Instruments:

    Timpani (two pedal drums)
    Xylophone
    Bells
    Chimes
    Marimba
    Suspended Cymbal
    Piatti
    Large Gong
    Bell Tree
    Mark Tree
    African Bell Tree
    Glass Wind Chimes
    Sand Blocks
    Piccolo Triangle
    Triangle
    Bongo Drums (mounted)
    Temple Blocks
    Gran Cassa
    Gran Cassa/Piatti Combo
    Castanets
    Slide Whistle
    Siren Whistle
    Ratchet
    Tube Shaker
    Train Whistle (highly amplified)
    Tambourine
    Gun Shot (SFX)

    Trap Drum Set:

    Bass Drum
    Snare Drum
    Tom Toms
    Floor Tom Tom
    Cymbals -
    Crash
    Suspended
    Ride
    Hi-Hat
    Sock
    Top
    Choke
    Whistle
    Wood Blocks (several sizes)
    Triangle
    Temple Blocks
    Tambourine

    1 Guitar I (Acoustic, Electric, Pedal Steel Guitar, Dobro & Banjo)
    1 Guitar II (Acoustic, Electric, Banjo & Country Fiddle)

    1 Keyboard I Piano
    1 Keyboard II Synthesizer (Celeste, Harp, Accordion, Harmonica, etc.)
    1 Keyboard III Synthesizer (principally Strings)

    Piano-Conductor’s Score sent with rehearsal material.

  • 1       Piano Conductor’s Score
    1       Prompt Book
    4       Prompt Books for Principal Characters
    17     Dialogue Parts
    33     Chorus-Vocal Parts

  • THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES opened on Broadway, May 1, 1991 and played for 981 performances at the Palace Theatre starring Keith Carradine and Paul Ukena, Jr.

    Awards (1991)

    6 Tony Awards for Musical, Score, Director, Choreographer, Costume Designer and Lighting Designer
    3 Drama Desk Awards for Musical, Music and Choreography
    The New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical

  • Find upcoming performances near you.

    Search for performances near you
    Organization City, State First Performance Last Performance
    Spectrum Community School VICTORIA, BC 02/27/2015 03/08/2015
    California State University at Chico CHICO, CA 04/29/2015 05/03/2015
    Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre ARROW ROCK, MO 07/08/2015 07/15/2015
    Rivertown Theaters of the Perf. Arts KENNER, LA 07/14/2016 07/24/2016