By Martin Thibodeau
‘Springtime for Harker’ by Wharton Follies; 30 Years of a Wharton Tradition!
On February 12, winter’s first big snowstorm arrived in Philadelphia just in time for the Wharton Follies 30th Reunion performance at the Zellerbach Theater. To the delight of the audience and returning alumni, the 2006 Follies production of “Springtime for Harker” braved the weather and went on with the show. The event showed the lighter side of Wharton’s 125th anniversary celebration as the Follies themselves reached a 30-year milestone. The Follies have become one of the defining traditions at Wharton and are regarded as a “must-see” event.
The Follies were inspired by Charlie Seymour, WG’75, who worked with classmate Larry Wilson to produce a string of theatrical productions at Houston Hall, International House, and Annenberg’s Prince Theater. With more than 100 students serving as producers, performers, writers, and crew, Follies is now both one of the largest clubs and highest profile organizations within Wharton, staging one of the most elaborate productions of its kind at any professional school. This year’s plotline parodied “The Producers” with backstage comedy framing the musical numbers. In this alternate universe, Graduate Division Vice Dean Anjani Jain and MBA Program Director Peggy Lane hatch a plot to create a Follies show so expensive and disastrous that its failure will oust their Dean, Patrick Harker, as payback for his taxing the pair with useless tasks, such as attending to his dry cleaning or cleaning his office.
As the Follies preparations balloon out of control, Harker finds no idea too absurd and no cost too great. The scheming duo hopes that he will finally be exposed for his profligacy. Needless to say, the lavish show-within-a-show “Springtime for Harker” becomes an unqualified success, thanks to some last-minute downsizing and “outsourcing” of skits. Harker ultimately ends up reaping all the accolades, despite the efforts to sabotage him, ensuring a new Follies production (and a new challenge for the onstage Lane and Jain) in 2007. If you missed the show and wish to appreciate the performance from the excellent cast, you are in luck. The 2006 Wharton Follies DVD is available for sale online at <store.yahoo.com/wga/follies2006dvd.html>.