Central Coast Follies brings ‘World Tour’

nightengayles@aol.comOctober 5, 2010 

The Central Coast Follies will again grace the stage this weekend at the Clark Center for the Performing Arts in Arroyo Grande.

This year, the theme of their benefit performance is “World Tour.” The show features dances from all over the world including Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.

The all-female dancers range in age from 60 to 86.

Mary Fahey, 74, of Pismo Beach, was inspired to dance after seeing the Gotta Dance troupe perform at the Pismo Beach Veterans Hall in 2002. She taught herself how to tap dance and soon became a member of the 65-and-older dance group.

Fahey joined the Central Coast Follies in 2003 despite having had two hip replacements and an ankle fusion, Fahey practices with the Follies for several hours every Wednesday and Sunday. She also belongs to a ballroom dance group.

Another Follies dancer, 78-year-old Marlene Dochterman of Nipomo, also started out with Gotta Dance.

The director of this amazing group of dancers is the super talented and indefatigable Jason Sumabat, an award-winning choreographer who grew up in Arroyo Grande. He’s been working with the Central Coast Follies since 2003.

A San Diego resident, Sumabat travels to Arroyo Grande every Sunday for practice. He has never missed a class.

“This is my therapy,” said Sumabat, who works full-time as a computer network specialist in San Diego.

Sumabat has been in the entertainment field since he was eight.

A professional dancer and singer, he has appeared in many Broadway productions, including “Into the Woods” and “Into the Night,” and toured nationally with “A Chorus Line.”

He also performed in “Cats” in Los Angeles.

Locally, Sumabat has worked as a director, choreographer and producer at the San Luis Obispo Little Theatre, PCPA Theaterfest and the Clark Center. He has won three Fine Arts, Music and Entertainment (FAME) awards.

“He’s very special,” Parker said of Sumabat.

Sumabat’s brother, Arroyo Grande resident Randall Sumabat, designs the costumes for the Follies. They’re designed to be “easily wearable for older women who may have had hip or knee replacements, back problems or more,” he said.

Randall Sumabat makes many of the costumes interchangeable so that, with a sash here or a different headdress there, they can function in different dances.

Many of the women have endured big struggles, he said, describing the Follies as “like a sisterhood, like family.”

This year the costume designer has created a 22-piece travel set for each of the 25 dancers, reflecting the native dress of each of the countries represented in the “World Tour.” He supervises the ladies as they gather daily to trace patterns, and cut and sew the costumes.

The Follies hold a sidewalk sale every spring at the Edgewater Inn in Pismo Beach to pay for their costumes.

Each Follies production benefits Parkinson’s disease research.

Dancer Dixie Parker’s husband had the disease, and the troupe chose to donate to The Parkinson Alliance, which raises money for research. Each donation is equally matched by The Tuchman Foundation.

The first year, the group sent $7,518 to the Parkinson Alliance. Last year it was $31,000.

This weekend’s Follies show includes several other groups and individuals such as singers, children and barbershop groups. It promises to be a fantastic production.

Central Coast Follies ‘World Tour’

7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Clark Center for the Performing Arts, 487 Fair Oaks Ave., Arroyo Grande $20

489-9444, www.clarkcenter.org

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