39th annual Follies fills Hardeman Auditorium with laughter, kicks off school year

Oklahoma Christian employees kick off the new year with the 40th annual First Week Follies. Photo by Jenny Rigney.

Oklahoma Christian employees kick off the new year with the 40th annual First Week Follies. Photo by Jenny Rigney.

Spotlights lit up the stage in Hardeman Auditorium last night to commence the 39th annual First Week Follies performance.

Oklahoma Christian University Executive Director of Alumni Relations Bob Lashley created First Week Follies as a fundraiser event for chapel songbooks.

After the success of the first performance 39 years ago, Lashley decided to make First Week Follies an annual event. Over the years the event transformed from a fundraiser to a tradition for those in the Oklahoma Christian community.

“It was unique enough that the kids wanted to come, but it was also a community event,” Lashley said. “Churches around would come, so it’s pretty much always been a full-crowd.”

Although First-Week Follies gradually developed into a comedic event, Lashley said the true purpose behind the laughter goes deeper.

“I want students to see the people on campus in a different role,” Lashley said. “They’ll get goofy and have some fun, that’s what I want to see. At the same time I want them to know they’re serious about what they do in their classrooms.”

According to Lashley, not only does First Week Follies break down barriers between students and professors, but it also allows new professors to be introduced to the student body.

“It’s always fun to see new people involved in the show and have a good time,” Lashley said. “That’s what I like about the show most, is just watching those people doing something different than just teach a class.”

Over the years a variety of Oklahoma Christian faculty members have participated in First Week Follies, including President John deSteiguer and Dean of Students Neil Arter, as well as professors such as Bible professor Jim Baird.

Baird’s daughter, freshman Elizabeth Baird, has been a face in the audience at First Week Follies since she was nine years old.

“I really like it,” Elizabeth said. “I think it’s fun to see all the acts, and it’s definitely interesting to see my dad in there.”

Elizabeth said although she enjoys seeing her dad on stage, each year it is an adjustment to get used to.

“It’s weird to see my dad up there and to hear people saying, ‘Your dad is so good’ and ‘I love your dad,’” Elizabeth said. “He’s really funny.”

One of Elizabeth’s favorite memories of her father performing was when he first enacted the Little Bo Peep segment of the show.

“The first time he did Little Bo Peep was pretty dramatic,” Elizabeth said. “I couldn’t stop laughing, and I remember him practicing at home.”

According to junior Darion Dalton, First Week Follies is a must-see Oklahoma Christian tradition.

“It’s always a good time,” Dalton said. “It’s just great to see different talent on campus that our faculty have and to make jokes later.”

Acts from this year’s show included car karaoke led by deSteiguer, dancing greasers, a duet delivered by choir director Kyle Pullen and music professor Celeste Dvorak and a “brainstorm” segment featuring Director of Advancement Operations Will Blanchard “reading” the mind of a fellow faculty member.

This year was Dalton’s second time as an audience member for the event, and he said the acts at this year’s First Week Follies were some of the best.

“We had some great greasers taking us back to the 50s, or what was also great at the same time was the brainstorm segment,” Dalton said.

Dalton said the event is important because it helps students to understand Oklahoma Christian on a different level.

“I think it’s great,” Dalton said. “I really enjoy it. I’m bummed I missed my first year, but every year I go it’s always a good time, and I always get a good laugh. It’s a really good opportunity for those who are entering the school to get an idea that OC isn’t always so uptight.”

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