The faculty and staff of Oklahoma Christian University will take to the stage for a night of unique performances, during the 40th annual First Week Follies tonight in Hardeman Auditorium.
Executive Director of the Office of Alumni Relations Bob Lashley said he first created the fundraiser 40 years ago in an effort to raise money for chapel songbooks. The first show did not feature any Oklahoma Christian staff, but Professor of Bible Stafford North had the idea to recruit faculty and staff to perform. The second year, when faculty and staff joined the cast, was such a success North and Lashley decided to continually cast faculty and staff.
Lashley enjoys Follies and loves to see it flourish. He said he appreciates the continuity of his original concept in entertaining students.
“I enjoy watching the show grow,” Lashley said. “The purpose has remained for the show to break barriers between staff and students. I believe the unique atmosphere makes Oklahoma Christian exceptional. It is rare to hear of a state school putting on a similar production.”
Lashley said he is particularly excited for the 40th annual production, because he plans to show clips of past shows, including the Bible department’s first video, “Synchronized Swimming.” The Bible department started producing a departmental video in 2002 and from the beginning it became a key part of the show. Lashley said he enjoys seeing different departments collaborate.
“After the first production, I worked to have the cast comprised of only faculty and staff, while the band was comprised of alums,” Lashley said. “The most difficult part each year is knowing what talent is available among our staff.”
Sophomore Elizabeth Baird has been attending the show for over five years and said she enjoys seeing her father, Professor of Bible and Philosophy Jim Baird, in the show.
“It is not every day you get to see your professors dress up in crazy costumes, doing out-of-the-box routines,” Baird said. “To me, the show helped me connect to the faculty in an unusual way. Seeing my dad on stage is not embarrassing. I love seeing him being a real goof. I get many comments whenever he performs like, ‘your dad is so cool,’ or ‘I love your dad.’ Last year he rapped ‘Hamilton’ and I was so excited. I often make him rap it at home.”
Sophomore Kayla Gomez said Follies provides a unique experience for students watching their faculty and staff. Gomez has attended the show since her freshman year.
“First Week Follies helps students feel friendly and comfortable with our professors,” Gomez said. “It makes the school environment a little less stressful.”