Lions Follies presents "The Laff Inn"

The 26th annual Lions Follies hits the stage at the Hood River Middle School auditorium Friday for a five-night run. This year's show is called "The Laff Inn," and promises to bring guffaws as well as some silly sentimentality as it harkens back to the variety shows of the 1960s and '70s.

The Follies runs April 5 and 6 and continues April 11, 12 and 13. Tickets are $7.50 at the door; $5.50 for seniors and children under 12. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m.

"The Laff Inn" is a series of a half-dozen vignettes featuring characters from many of the popular variety shows of yore -- like Carol Burnett, Dean Martin, the Smothers Brothers, and Sonny and Cher.

"The idea is that these characters come to the inn and they can't separate their stage personas from real life," said Bev Bridgewater, executive producer.

This year's theme initially arose from several cast members who wanted to do a Carol Burnett take-off.

"The comedy on her show relied on an ensemble cast -- that's what made it great," Bridgewater said. After settling on a couple of Burnett numbers, the cast branched out into other variety shows from that era. "It just took off from there," she said.

"The Laff Inn" has about 35 cast members. Along with the vignettes, there are about 18 songs sung by various cast members throughout the show.

"We've got numbers by Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis and Judy Garland, which were really more from the early '60s," Bridgewater said. "But they just seemed to fit."

The laughs abound in "The Laff Inn," but it's all for a serious cause. The annual Lions Follies raises money for the Oregon Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation. Over the past quarter century, the Hood River Lions Follies has raised more than $190,000 for the organization.

Tickets for the Lions Follies are available at the door and in advance. Tickets purchased in advance are 50 cents cheaper and are available at Waucoma Bookstore, Columbia River Bank, U.S. Bank, Down Manor, Studio 10, Windmaster Market, Mid-Valley Market, McIsaac's Store and Jim's Market. They can also be purchased from any Lion or Lioness or by calling 386-3580 or 386-6888.

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