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From Emma – Backstage Buddies

December 12, 2016

It’s Christmas City Follies time at Touchstone, which means the annual return of old favorites– The Old Guy, Little Red, the Shopping Carts. Every year, we have fun re-inventing what these protagonists of the ongoing Follies epic will undertake, and every year, returning audiences get to follow the story of characters that many of them have come to view as old friends and Christmas traditions.

But backstage, we also spend a lot of time inhabiting the peripheral characters– non-speaking megafauna, dancing toys, characters with brief cameos, and noble souls who have a brief shtick to cover a transition. With some of these characters, we’ll be sitting in their costumes for half of intermission, waiting to get our places call, and so, being serious, professional actor-creator types, we start acting out whole new sketches backstage, fleshing out the peripheral characters until they have ridiculous plot arcs of their own.

I’d like to introduce you to a few of this year’s:

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NAME: Johanna
SPECIES: Overgrown cat/jaguar/panther hybrid
PLAYED BY: Mary Wright
SECRET WISH: To be a Vegas showgirl
DIETARY PREFERENCES: Vegan.

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NAME: Phil
SPECIES: Brown bear/grizzly bear hybrid
PLAYED BY: Bill George
FAVORITE DESSERT: Fire-toasted brownies with walnuts and white powdered sugar – yum!

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NAME: Bernerd
SPECIES: Bunny rabbit
PLAYED BY: Ashley Tait Weller
SECRET WISH: To be an overgrown cat/jaguar/panther hybrid
FAVORITE FOOD: Cupcakes (so much better than carrots)

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NAME: Tiberious
SPECIES: Homo sapien, primus pilus
PLAYED BY: Dan Maher
FAVORITE COOKIE: Almond kiffles

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NAME: ShamWanda (the “m” is silent)
SPECIES: Polar bear
PLAYED BY: Emma Ackerman
DEEPEST FEAR: Zombiepocalypse

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NAME: Oedipus
SPECIES: Tyrannosaurus Rex
PLAYED BY: Christopher Michael Morris
FAVORITE HOBBY: Crossfit
FAVORITE TV SHOW: Netflix’s Chef’s Table
DIETARY PREFERENCE: Vegan

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NAME: Petruchio
SPECIES: Penguin
PLAYED BY: Sabrina DeWeerdt
FAVORITE FOOD: Sardines
REPUTATION: Voted “Most Likely to Show Up Overdressed” in high school

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NAME: Rudolph
SPECIES: Reindeer
PLAYED BY: Joseph Ferraro
REPUTATION: Did marching band in high school
FAVORITE INSTRUMENT: Tuba

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NAME: Sugar Cookie
SPECIES: Christmas Elf
PLAYED BY: Sarah Vogelgesang
DIETARY RESTRICTIONS: Allergic to sugar cookies

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NAME: Little Sammy Cottrell
SPECIES: Homo sapien, ukulelecus minor
PLAYED BY: Alexander Vogelgesang
OCCUPATION: Ukulele prodigy
DEEPEST SECRET: Doesn’t actually play ukulele

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NAME: Panda
SPECIES: Panda
PLAYED BY: Bridget Broskey
FAVORITE HOBBY: Cosplay
FAVORITE ANIME: Sailor Moon

We’re fond of our little backstage menagerie; the particulars of their epic stories may never make it onstage, but we have a lot of fun with them while we’re waiting in the wings.

So next time you’re at Follies, enjoying coffee at intermission, just imagine us backstage, enacting zombie Petruchio’s slow chase of ShamWanda and Oedipus while Johanna takes a tap solo in the background…

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