Follies plans fun with ferry fiasco

David Howell leads the actors through the script at a Whidbey Follies practice last week. Howell will commute from Oregon to Whidbey Island to direct.  - Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times
David Howell leads the actors through the script at a Whidbey Follies practice last week. Howell will commute from Oregon to Whidbey Island to direct.
— image credit: Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times

Writer David Howell can still remember directing the first “Whidbey Follies” in 1989, the comical satire of current issues faced by Whidbey Islanders.

The occasional event continued to poke fun at some of the island’s biggest sacred cows over the years, including the ferry system and Navy base, along with odd news happenings.

Now, 20 years and 300 miles later, Howell plans to direct again, and said the Keystone ferry is in his crosshairs.

“We’ve always done stuff about the ferries, but this is big news now,” he said.

Howell was the first president of Concerts on the Cove and a former Playhouse business manager. He wrote the scripts for the first five years of Whidbey Follies before leaving for McMinnville, Ore., in 1993, where he lives currently.

This year, producer Sue Riney called him back for a 20th anniversary performance and Howell, along with his wife Pat, are penning the script.

The production will include a look back through video clips of original skits and music, as well as some of the original performers.

The Shifty Sailors, a sea shanty group, will be making their first appearance at Whidbey Follies, joining previous Follies performers The Satin Dolls, Andrews Misters and The Sisters of Perpetual Maintenance (nuns sent from the Vatican to stop a Coupeville church from using vinyl siding).

Howell recalled that some of his early Follies ideas came from the event itself.

“There was one gentleman who was in fiery opposition to Follies in the park because of the noise. He would light fires in his front yard and cut wood with a chainsaw during the concert,” Howell said. “So we used to include him.”

Twenty years ago, the event was a fundraiser for the construction of the Pavilion stage in Coupeville Town Park. Proceeds from this year’s event will be shared between the Whidbey Playhouse and Concerts on the Cove.

Whidbey Follies will be held Saturday, March 21, at the Coupeville Performing Arts Center. Show times are 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $15 each and will be available in Oak Harbor at the Whidbey Playhouse and Wind & Tide Bookstore, in Coupeville at Bayleaf and Linds, in Freeland at Book Bay and in Langley at Moonraker, or at

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 26
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates