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The Comic Opera Guild focuses on the funny in "Follies"

Wed, 10/23/2019 - 3:30pm by christopherporter

Comic Opera Guild logo & singer Tiffany Thorpe

Tiffany Thorpe is one of the singers who will perform at the Comic Opera Guild's Follies. Photo by Larri Slade Photography.

The Comic Opera Guild was founded on the premise that the operetta (or comic opera) was the perfect vehicle to introduce people to opera and the thrill of listening to classically trained voices. Comedy makes everything approachable. Comic songs were common in the last century, either as pop music or taken from Broadway shows. Unfortunately, the comic song is uncommon now, and so we decided to produce a show that brought this idiom to people's attention.

On Friday, Nov. 1, at 7 pm at the Ann Arbor District Library's downtown location, the Guild presents Follies, a revue-concert featuring high-spirited and comic entertainment reminiscent of the Ziegfeld Follies. Classically trained singers and instrumentalists will cross over into light-hearted music from the 1920s to the present day, from shows, Vaudeville, and even Tom Lehrer and Eric Idle.

Named for the fabulous variety shows of the '20s and '30s, the idea of the Follies is that it's a joyful experience. Each of the songs is intended to leave the audience with a smile on their face. As the Comic Opera Guild (COG) is a musical organization, our version of Follies will be primarily a musical show.

The selections vary from songs that were presented in the Vaudeville era, such as “Don't Go in the Lion's Cage Tonight,” a mock instructional ballad, to more recent songs, such as “The Masochism Tango” by Tom Lehrer and “The Galaxy Song” by Eric Idle of Monty Python fame.

Most of the singers in Follies have been seen in Comic Opera Guild productions before. Thomas and Patricia Petiet, founders of the Comic Opera Guild, have sung with a number of other companies in Michigan in addition to starring in COG shows. Glenn Perry is the producer and star of Opera on Tap (OOT), presented monthly at Sidetrack in Ypsilanti. Carla Margolis, Chris Grapentine, Holly Perry, and Tiffany Thorpe are all professionals who have also sung with OOT.

Erik and Elizabeth Hildinger and Lisa Lava-Keller are talented multi-instrumentalists who will perform on guitar, cello, piano, and ukelele. Zoe Zdrojewsky is an exceptional voice student at Eastern Michigan University. Margaret Counihan, who trained at Britain's Royal Academy, will also accompany.

The show will be emceed by Thomas Skylis, who is also a member of the Huron Valley Harmonizers, a barbershop chorus in Ann Arbor.

The Comic Opera Guild performs "Follies" on Friday, Nov. 1, at 7 pm at the Ann Arbor District Library, 343 S. Fifth Ave. For more information, visit or the "Follies" event page on Facebook.

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