Frantic Follies is a Yukon institution. For 36 years this Vaudeville
revue has been delighting audiences in the Yukon and around the
Originally created by Jim and Lyall Murdoch
the follies ran as an amateur production from 1968 to1970 when
it went professional. Since then there has been no looking back
for this popular show.
The Frantic Follies gets its vitality from a legacy of stage
traditions: the arrangement of a Vaudeville revue, the talent
of the actors and the stories of the Yukon it presents in song
Around the turn of the 20th century, Vaudeville
and its cousin the British music hall was king, before television,
before radio and even before film grew to its prominence in
It was stage that coined the phrase “bums
on seats”. In one performance you could see high opera,
slapstick humour, musical acts, and adaptations of plays and
other popular literature written for the stage by skilled and
As the gold fever of the Klondike attracted
huge new masses of people to this area, theatres were built
and the entertainment of the age, Vaudeville, was imported to
soothe the savage sourdough and perhaps glean a bit of gold
from his pocket.
In our own Frantic Follies we have a loving tip of the hat to
the tradition that one acting troupe could write play and perform
all the parts. The Revue takes you back to the dancehalls of
the Klondike gold rush, and presents good old-fashioned songs,
dances, musical numbers and adaptations of Robert Service poems,
some at breakneck speed. All of the cast members sang danced
and played instruments.
Apart from being an accomplished pianist with
a CD release, Grant Simpson, a 25 year veteran of the Frantic
Follies, is the co-producer, musical director and acts on stage
as the master of ceremonies among other roles.
Amanda Leslie sang in her role as the chanteuse.
She gets all the good costume changes in the show and gets to
pick out a special pookey to sing to every performance.
As the opera singer, Michael Eckford try’s
throughout to performance ply his chosen singing style only
to get shut out by cast and audience equally. He also plays
some powerful trumpet in the Dixieland band.
What show about the height of the Yukon Gold
rush would be complete without high kicking dancing girls? The
Frantic Follies is replete with gorgeous girls in feathers and
sequins, garter belts and high steps, all in good taste and
good fun. The dancers in the performance I saw, Adrienne Pelchat,
Nikki Swerhun, and Rebecca Reynolds are all accomplished dancers
in there own right.
Bernie Phillips, under great globs of grease
paint, was a pleasure to watch. This actor can really chew the
scenery as needed.
What I saw was serious actors who worked tirelessly
in many roles to get the performance right for the stage, night
after night in the best tradition of the theatre. Vaudeville
is not dead; it lives on here in the Yukon, downtown Whitehorse,
two shows a night at the Westmark Hotel.
Though they may have gleaned a bit of gold from
my own pocket, at least I left with my wallet.