The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies may be closing forever May 18, but in true Follies style, it’s going out kicking. After more than two decades of star-studded shows and “long-legged lovelies” gracing the historic Plaza Theatre stage, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Darlene Love takes it home as the final headliner.
Proclaimed “one of the greatest singers of all time” by Rolling Stone, Love will star in matinee and evening shows beginning March 11, performing alongside the Follies dancers and America’s Got Talent comedian and variety act Frank Olivier. Love takes over from Grammy nominee Maureen McGovern (“The Morning After”), who headlines through March 8.
Love’s remarkable career is highlighted in the recent film 20 Feet From Stardom, which earned Academy Award and Critics’ Choice wins this year for Best Documentary Feature. She got her start in the early ’60s as a vocal pioneer in Phil Spector’s legendary Wall of Sound, charting on Billboard with hits like “(Today I Met) The Boy I’m Gonna Marry,” “Da Doo Ron Ron,” “Wait ’Til My Bobby Gets Home,” and “He’s a Rebel.” Famed for her incomparable backing vocals, Love has sung with such legends as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Marvin Gaye, The Righteous Brothers, The Blossoms, and many more.
Her diverse talents also led to roles in the Lethal Weapon movie series and on Broadway in Grease and Hairspray. On television, Love has performed her No. 1 holiday hit “(Christmas) Baby Please Come Home” annually for more than 20 years on the Late Show With David Letterman.
The Follies, which describes itself as a “Broadway-caliber celebration of the music, dance, and comedy of midcentury America with a cast old enough to have lived it,” features professional performers age 55 to 83. High-kicking dancers in their 70s — bedecked in sequins and full Vegas showgirl regalia, no less — mount multiple high-energy shows a week.
The record-breaking final season, The Last Hurrah!, showcases the Follies’ “greatest hits,” with top dance numbers and variety acts from the past 23 seasons. The show draws from the Follies’ original format of 1930s and ’40s standards and highlights from the rock’n’roll and disco eras. Founder Riff Markowitz is also a part of the cast; as the Follies’ master of ceremonies, he hasn’t missed a single show since its 1992 premiere. More than 3 million people have seen the Follies, according to its website.
The Last Hurrah! starring Darlene Love runs through May 18 at the Plaza Theatre, 128 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs. 760-327-0225; www.psfollies.com. To read more about the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies’ history and hear an interview with Follies creator Riff Markowitz, visit the Palm Springs Life archives.
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Darlene Love headlines The Last Hurrah! beginning March 11.
Photo Courtesy The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies