Photos courtesy of the Junior Service League of Rome

The 80s are back. If you happen to notice folks walking down Broad Street in parachute pants, Members Only jackets, neon colors and a Swatch, don’t be alarmed. You aren’t in a “Dr. Who” episode; you are simply seeing Romans gearing up for this year’s “Totally Awesome 80s Follies.”

Presented biannually by the Junior Service League of Rome, Follies is a widely anticipated variety show that is sure to provide some fun and nostalgia with this year’s 80s theme. Mark your calendars and make plans to attend Feb. 6-7 at Rome City Auditorium. The show kicks off at 8 p.m. both nights. 

“Our 80s theme is because of our 80th anniversary,” says Kim Wright, Follies chairperson. “JSL was founded in 1934 and has been doing Follies since 1940. We have done themes before, including a 40s theme and, more recently, ‘As Seen on TV’ in 2013.”  

The Junior Service League (JSL) has a long, deep history of making a difference in Rome and Floyd County through the support of local charities. In 1946, they helped purchase 15 playground sets for local elementary schools and their impact has grown each year since. The organization raises money through a variety of efforts, including their annual Poinsettia sale, their biannual Garden Tour and, of course, Follies. 

“Between $20,000 and $30,000 is donated annually by JSL to agencies in our community to help improve the lives of women and children,” Wright explains. “We have donated to such organizations as Community Trust projects, Open Hands, Murphy’s Heart Children’s Center, Hospitality House, Habitat for Humanity, Good Neighbors Ministry and the Chieftains Museum.”  

Funds also go to JSL’s League4Learning program, which funds the purchase of school supplies for Rome and Floyd County students in need.

Wright, a teacher at West End Elementary School, joined JSL after volunteering as a community participant in Follies and learning about the good work of the organization. “I absolutely loved it and that’s what got me involved,” she says. “I’m so glad I am part of the Service League; it’s a wonderful organization. It makes me feel good to know how much we do for our community.”  

Between $20,000 and $30,000 is donated annually by JSL to agencies in our community to help improve the lives of women and children.

Follies consists of a number of skits and performances that include singing, acting and dancing. The show’s 80s theme is sure to remind us of a time when all we wanted to do was get our hands on the new Duran Duran album, and we may even hear lingo such as “like,” “righteous,” “sike,” and other forgotten gems. 

At intermission, JSL will recognize their sustainers. “These are the contributors who sustain us and allow us to continue lending a hand to our community,” Wright explains.  

“Thriller” back-up dancers, Where’s the Beef joke tellers and “The Heat is On” singers are on hereby put on notice. JSL encourages members of the community to join in the Follies fun by performing in the show. It’s a great opportunity to don your acid-washed jeans and jelly bracelets again for a worthy cause. 

“Follies is a great opportunity to get to know people you might not normally have a chance to meet otherwise,” says Ashley Evans, president of Junior Service League. “We’ve actually gotten a lot of new League members, like Kim, because they have volunteered in Follies and had such a great time!”

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Anyone interested in taking the stage in Follies this year is invited to attend a Meet the Director gathering at The Partridge on Sunday, Jan. 18, from 4 to 6 p.m. Auditions for singers, dancers and performers will begin Monday, Jan. 19, at 5:30 p.m. at Darlington School’s Thatcher Hall and will continue throughout that week. JSL is looking for men, women and children who want to show off their creative side. Follies will also feature local musicians playing in the orchestra.

Directing Follies is Chris Fettig of Meadville, Penn. His company, Christopher Alan Productions Follies (or CAP Follies), has been creating follies shows for fundraisers and corporate celebrations for decades. During the holidays, Fettig is also director of the Cincinnati Christmas Carolers.

“Chris is a true professional,” Evans says. “He writes the show, does the casting and brings all the costumes. It is amazing what he is able to do when you consider that the entire process – from casting, to rehearsals, to opening night – is less than three weeks. If you have never seen Follies, I hope you will join us this year.”

Businesses and individuals interested in sponsoring Follies may contact JSL at JSLRome@gmail.com for details. Sponsorship levels range from $75 for a business card ad in the event program to $5,000 for the Academy Award title sponsorship package. Each level comes with corresponding perks, some of which include program ads, on-stage ads and complimentary tickets to the show. 

For 80 years, the Junior Service League
has been making our community a better place.
 Through donations, volunteer hours and events such as Follies, they enthusiastically lend a hand to those in need. This year’s event is an opportunity to not only support this worthwhile group of engaged citizens but also enjoy a great night out. 

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Been dying to try on those old leg warmers? Want to see if shoulder pads and hoop earrings still look good together? Or do you have a “gnarly” version of “Flashdance” to perform while wearing Ray-Bans? Here is your perfect “like totally” chance. Be it through a donation, a performance or as an entertained attendee, this year’s Follies has something for everyone. 

To purchase Follies tickets, visit www.jslofrome.com. Admission is $15 for adults and $8 for children. Patron tickets are also available for $50, which includes reserved seating and admission to the pre-show party featuring an open bar and hors d’oeuvres. 

For more information about Follies, contact Wright at kwright7476@gmail.com.