Arts & Entertainment

Ready to roast: Park City Follies’ new murder mystery is coming to town

PARK CITY, Utah — It’s springtime, and the Park City Follies are back with a new show (it’s a mystery) to celebrate—and roast—the Park City community.

“[The Follies], it’s part of the fabric of town,” Park City Follies creative team member Tom Clyde said. “And I think it’s cool that we’ve got that because it’s definitely for the locals. And we always tell people, if you don’t live here, you’re not going to get it, so please don’t waste your money on a ticket.”

This year, the Follies shows will run for three weekends in a row, from April 18 to May 5 however the shows are already sold out.

Follies humble beginnings

Back in 2001, a Deer Valley lifty named Chad Brown, with an inkling for the stage life, put together the first-ever Park City Follies at the Egyptian Theater. But, as Clyde put it, a bottle of Jäger almost prevented the show from “going on.”

“We had a skit where one of the prompts involved a bottle of Jägermeister, and it was supposed to be an empty bottle of Jägermeister. By the end of the show, it was [empty], but not at the beginning,” Clyde said. “At intermission, about half of the cast went across the street to the Alamo and didn’t come back.”

Luckily, Clyde and a few other cast members pulled together a second act and thought they had a good run at it, but they figured the show would be short-lived. However, the local response told the cast and crew to give it one more go in the next year, and the show stuck. Twenty-three years later, the Park City Follies still goes on, but instead of throwing things together last minute, the effort has turned into a “beast” of a performance.

“It’s gone from something that was sort of like a junior high school assembly that started two weeks ahead of the show to not quite a year-round effort,” Clyde said.

The best part about the Follies is the show is made up of people who are true locals in the sense that their backgrounds are not as stage/dramatic professionals. Clyde, a retired lawyer, now runs a farm “cow-wrangling,” but most locals know him for his column that’s published in the Park Record. Peg Tan, who’s a child trauma therapist, has done musical theater her whole life, and the whole family has been involved in the Follies throughout the years, with her husband as one of the original directors. Scott Greenberg, a newer member of the creative team, sells life insurance, saying, “I have no background. Nothing. I am just a snarky cynical kind of guy and just really thrilled to be a part of this group.”

This year, the show has a new director, Mark Conklin. His day job wouldn’t suggest he could make the cut, but his college background is a bachelor’s in Speech and Theater. The crux of the content, where the magic is made, comes from the creative team. When asked how they get their ideas, they say that the show “just writes itself.”

Park City Follies cast and crew at rehearsal for the 2024 show.
Park City Follies cast and crew at rehearsal for the 2024 show. Photo: Peg Tan // Park City Follies

From tourists navigating mountain town life to small-town dramas, there’s endless content. Even the creative team comes from a multitude of backgrounds and hangs in different circles, so there’s always a little something in the Follies for everyone. But, the one caveat is that to really “get” the Follies, those coming to the show really have to be locals.

If the show is for locals, and the entire point of the show is to roast Park City and the locals in it, how does Park City handle the jabs?

Clyde recalls the year when the Follies did a show with the underlying theme being the Hunger Games, called the “Housing Games,” and people came out of the show calling it a bit of a buzz kill because the housing situation was actually that bad. But Clyde comments that the Follies have a goal of helping remind locals to keep the ideals for the town in the forefront of their minds.

“The goal is to send people out laughing, but also plant the seeds of saying, wait a minute, what is it about this community that we value, what’s changing and getting away from us, and what do we need to protect?” Clyde said.

There was one year that Rob Katz, the former CEO of Vail Resorts, showed up for the Follies when the creative team produced a skit portraying him as “the most evil force in all of the world.” The team remembers him staying after the show to talk to cast members and take photos. Clyde remembered the moment saying,

“[Katz] told me there wasn’t another community they do business in that could pull off a show like that. And I said, ‘But Rob, that’s because people live here, and this happens. This is a real town’.”

So what—and who—is on the docket for this year’s show? This year’s show is a Murder Mystery, the first one of its kind for the Follies, called “Murder on the Silver Lake Express.” The show’s ultimate theme is about growth and development, and maybe a bit about the expansion to Deer Valley and the council’s desire to connect the community via train. “It’s a future where we all move by train, an electric train,” Clyde said. “An electric train that requires an extension cord.”

Needless to say, if you are a local, and you like watching comedy, then you probably already have a ticket to the Park City Follies.

But what about locals that are newer to town that want to come?

“They need to do their homework. They need to be reading the news and paying attention,” Clyde said. “You need to know about dogs getting sued and Prince building a purple house in Old Town in the Paisley Palace, and the Olympics possibly coming.”

Word has it that TownLift has its own feature in the show this year, so we know we’ve made it.

The Park City Follies performances run Thursdays to Sundays from April 18 to May 5. While, the performances are all sold out, those interested in trying to get tickets can join a waitlist on the website or call at 5 p.m. the day of the show to see if there are any tickets that are being released last minute.

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