She can can can

The Frantic Follies is back for its 40th season. The Yukon's traditional slapstick comedy reclaimed its summer venue downtown Whitehorse at the Westmark Hotel, presenting a full, familiar and talented cast on opening night, May 21st.

The Frantic Follies is back for its 40th season.

The Yukon’s traditional slapstick comedy reclaimed its summer venue downtown Whitehorse at the Westmark Hotel, presenting a full, familiar and talented cast on opening night, May 21st.

Kicking off this season with a new set of legs, is local 16-year-old dancer Caleigh Farrow.

Tossed in amongst last year’s can-can dancers, experienced actors and professional musicians, Farrow had to struggle to obtain the same level of familiarity with the show.

With Farrow being the only newbie, the usual two-week rehearsal period was cut down to a single week.

Although intimidated, Farrow embraced the challenge knowing she had the necessary musical background from years of piano lessons, two semesters in the Music Arts and Drama program and 13 years of dance training under her belt.

In seven days, Farrow was expected to pick up all the choreography, become competent singing all the original Follies’ songs without the aid of written lyrics or sheet music, and learn how to play two new musical instruments: the banjo and the saw.

“Being the youngest, I felt like I really had to prove myself,” says Farrow with a shrug.

The other dancers showed her how to strum and play chords, then she practised the banjo every chance she got.

Luckily, Farrow is a quick study.

Balancing homework, school and seven-hour rehearsals every day, she succeeded in learning her part.

Unlike the other can-can girls, Farrow is not on summer holidays yet because she is still in high school. Ambitiously finishing all of her Grade 11 and Grade 12 courses in one year, Farrow will graduate a year early so she can head off to George Brown this September.

“I dance, I work and I do a lot of homework.” Farrow grins, seemingly happy with this lifestyle.

Because Farrow worked front of house for the Frantic Follies last summer, and one of the choreographers for the show, Dale Cooper, has been Farrow’s dance teacher for years, Farrow did not have to audition for a part in the show.

Her talent and broad range of dance styles, including, ballet, modern and jazz, were recognized and put to use. The Follies’ can-can dancing and varied dance choreography is fresh and exciting, “a style of its own,” says Farrow.

Hired part time, she does three shows a week. But she is also called in as a replacement for the other can-can dancers when needed.

With a rotating cast, Farrow’s role changes from show to show.

“There are only slight variations. Some nights I play banjo; some nights I play piano,” says Farrow.

The Follies’ performers also make up the backstage technical crew.

Before each show, they discuss who will be in charge of specific set changes, props and lighting. Some nights, between dance numbers and quick changes, Farrow is busy turning knobs and clicking switches.

She’s grateful for this high-paying dance job at such a young age, she says.

But her youth is also problematic.

There are certain can-can segments that Farrow is not allowed to participate in because of their sexual connotations. For instance, whenever a man is picked from the crowd to become that night’s, “Pookie,” Farrow is not one of can-can girls to sit on his lap.

“In the Iceworm (scene), I can’t do the joke where the guy in the funny hat, Major Brown, looks at the girl’s boobs.”

Some people consider can-can dancing, “very taboo,” says Farrow.

Last week, an entire audience became uncomfortably quiet when Farrow and the other dancing girls came onto the stage to do their high-kick can-can sequence.

“You could tell they didn’t respect what we did.”

Farrow’s parents are cool with it, and she’s thankful for that.

She’s also happy her outfits are not too scandalous.

“(The Frantic Follies) keeps it classy.”

Heidi Loos is a freelance writer who lives in Whitehorse.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce executive director Susan Guatto and program manager Andrei Samson outside the chamber office in downtown Whitehorse Feb. 23. (Stephanie Waddell, Yukon News)
When business models shift

Whitehorse chamber offers digital marketing workshop

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read