BY MARTA HEPLER DRAHOS
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Audiences never quite know what to expect at Traverse City’s annual Rotary Show — and neither do its producers.
The show, which lampoons “a year in the region” in songs and skits, changes from production meeting to production meeting as the area’s hot-button topics evolve.
“It’s a total moving target because by the time the show hits, we want it to be something that is happening — or has happened,” said producer Marsha Minervini. “It’s pretty much just general silliness.”
This year, Rotarians scrambled to create or scrap bits on issues like the Indigo Hotel and Bijou by the Bay as the projects moved forward — or didn’t, Minervini said. But audiences can count on Traverse City waterfront and tunnel redevelopment to figure in the show. There’s even a spoof on The Most Interesting Man in the World, with The Most Interesting Man in Traverse City filling in for the sauve gentleman of beer commercial fame.
The 71st Annual Rotary Show kicks off Wednesday, May 1, at Lars Hockstad Auditorium and runs through May 4. It features the “mighty” Rotary chorus, popular characters like Mother Fred and Flydini (Rotarians Paul LaPorte and Dan Bodamer), interlocuter Don Fraser and several special guests.
“We wanted to draw people into our ‘real’ talent,” Minervini said, of local performers including The Accidentals, Billy Strings and Don Julin, and Miriam Pico. “In the past we’ve had students from Interlochen and TC West, barbershop quartets. This year we’re expanding it and this time it’s going to be different every night.”
The chorus of about 40 Rotarians has been rehearsing for weeks for Cole Porter, novelty act and patriotic sets. “Remedial choreography” rehearsals start a half-hour before.
“The typical Rotarian isn’t used to standing in front of 500 people and singing and dancing,” said Minervini, who is producing the show with Phil Murphy, musical creators Dave Millross and Al Bonney, choreographer Jeremy Evans and arranger and jazz band conductor Mike Hunter.
The Rotary Show involves nearly 300 area Rotarians from three Traverse City Rotary clubs and traces its roots to World War II. Proceeds benefit the Traverse City Rotary Good Works Fund, which has given away some $2.1 million in grants to area organizations and endeavors since 1942.
General admission tickets are $10 at The Copy Shop, Petertyl Drug and Gift Center, Holiday Shopper and Terrace Shopper, and online at mynorthtickets.com. Reserved seat tickets are $15, only on mynorthtickets.com.
Showtime is 8 p.m., with pre-show activities, including a sing-along and Rotary International video, beginning at 7:30 p.m.