By DEB NICKLAY, Of The Globe Gazette
MASON CITY — The Mohawk Follies are filled with tradition — right down to laundry baskets.
A dressing room tucked behind the stage of the North Iowa Community Auditorium is filled with Mason City High School vocalists.
Each one has a laundry basket filled with costumes, makeup and hair supplies — a pile of performance particulars.
“ We’ll be doing the opening number, the end number and some of the ’80s stuff in between,” said junior Rachel Miller, 17, of the Concert Choir. “I get to wear leg warmers and aerobics gear,” she added, grinning.
The air fills with the smell of hot curling irons and hair spray.
The “Totally 80’s!” theme found more than 225 kids grooving to tunes such as “Maniac,” “Walk Like an Egyptian” and “Thriller.”
Kallie Young, 17, a senior, began her Follies career as a stage manager. This year, she was part of the senior corps of choir girls who did the number, “Hey, Big Spender,” and sang a solo, “Spark of Creation.”
“ This year is really fun but sad, too,” she said. “It’s my last year.”
Maddie Beck, 17, is experiencing her first year in the Concert Choir. She said she was a bit intimidated “by learning the dances; we haven’t had a lot of time.”
Dressed and ready to go, students waited in another room, some outfitted in fire engine-red-glittered dresses, others in black and white and gold ties. Some were hooked to iPods. Others read Dean Koontz, Harry Potter or played cards.
“ It’s kind of fun, being part of something that has been around for so long,” said Chad DeMaris, 15, one of the younger members of the school’s Varsity Show Choir. The group added its own brand of ’80s to the show with “Power of Love” and “Dancing on the Ceiling.”
“ It’s a cool experience to be a part of this, being with your friends,” he said.
As the hour of performance neared, the air tightened with anticipation.
Director Joel Everist briefly talked to the kids about energy levels on the last day of performance since “this is the one that will be videotaped.”
“ You’ll have to work twice as hard,” he said.
The Concert Choir members streamed to the stage. Safe behind a curtain and a wall of music provided by the Jazz Band, they whispered, laughed and practiced moves. One teen tried to do the moonwalk.
The house darkened and the hour moved to showtime. Stage lights blinked off. Choruses of “shh...” circulated, softened.
Imperceptibly, you could see 90 bodies straighten, faces forward, smiling.
The lights came on and the 58th version of the Mohawk Follies was on.
Bright lights sparkled off bow ties and grins.
Overture, curtains, lights
This is it, you’ll hit the heights
And oh what heights we’ll hit
On with the show this is it!
“ This is so much fun to watch,” said Hannah Crane, 16, a member of the orchestra and a props girl. “And I think it just gets better every year. ”
Globe Gazette Editor's Mailbag
MCHS Musical Excellence Continues
By ROBIN ANDERSON, Executive Director, Mason City Chamber of Commerce
Joel Everist and the dedicated music education staff at Mason City High School have done it again.
For those of us lucky enough to get a ticket to the 58th Annual Mohawk Follies, it was easy to see why MCHS is the only school in Iowa to be recognized by the Grammy Foundation for musical excellence.
The performances by these students was outstanding. It was especially fun to see so many young children in the audience who were enthralled by the talent, which no doubt sparked dreams of the future when they’ll be the ones taking the stage.
The quality of our music program should be a source of pride for our entire community. The fortune of athletic teams goes up and down through the years, but the MCHS music programs consistently distinguish themselves — year after year — as not only the best in Iowa, but among the best in the country. This is proven time and again by their performance in regional and national music competitions.
Perhaps we ’ve been overlooking a powerful recruiting tool.
*This copyrighted article and photographs are reprinted with the permission of The Globe Gazette and are not to be reproduced.*