Now in its 20th year, the CHOC Follies has become one of Orange County’s most popular fund and friend-raising events. With a cast and crew of more than 100 enthusiastic members, all singing and dancing to raise much needed funds for CHOC Children’s, this original musical production is made up of one-of-a-kind individuals all coming together to benefit CHOC. Today, meet Diane, Mia and Skipper Tim, three beloved cast members who have been part of the show from the very beginning.
Q: How did you get started as a CHOC Follies cast member?
Diane: I was one of the first people to join the inaugural CHOC Follies show. I belonged to a tap dancing group, and the CHOC Follies founder Gloria Zigner wanted me to recruit my class members. Because I’ve been in it from the beginning, I’ve been able to see how the show has changed and evolved over the years.
Mia: I was singing at a fundraising event for CHOC, and Gloria approached me afterwards and shared her vision of an event that would eventually become CHOC Follies. Although most cast members don’t have a background in musical theater, I did, and the rest is history.
Skipper Tim: My boss at the time received an invitation to participate in the first CHOC Follies, and I went on his behalf. I had a history in community theater, and I’ve been part of the CHOC Follies ever since!
Q: How do you balance the time commitment of rehearsals and fundraising efforts of cast members?
Diane: The directors have rehearsals down to a science and they know how many weeks it will take to learn certain aspects of the show. Different groups practice at different times and the directors are respectful of our other commitments. The cast is like a family!
Mia: Directors work around our schedule for rehearsal calls. It’s important to attend as many rehearsals as possible so that we can present a quality performance to our donors. A plus to the time spent there is that great friendships are formed among cast members.
Skipper Tim: We rehearse for up to eight weeks prior to the show, but the commitment is minimal compared to how it benefits the community. As for selling tickets, as a process server, when I’ve served papers for example, I’ve asked “Have you heard of the Follies? Want to buy tickets?” I’ll do whatever it takes!
Q: What does CHOC mean to you?
Diane: I had always known about CHOC but hadn’t known anyone that needed to be treated here. I was a guild member before a CHOC Follies cast member, and I love giving back to the hospital. Just to know that you’re giving so much back to the children is very heartwarming.
Mia: When I first got involved with CHOC Follies I took a tour of the hospital and that touched my heart. Seeing the kids and children that benefit from treatment at CHOC made me want to be part of raising money for the hospital. Ever since then, I just enjoy doing it so much that I can’t imagine not taking part. I’ve been blessed with healthy children and grandchildren so I’ve never had to experience my family being treated there. Through Follies I have come to understand the impact CHOC has on families, and it has touched my heart.
Skipper Tim: I come from a family in healthcare- my mom was a registered nurse and volunteer army nurse at end of WW1, and my dad was a gastroenterologist. I’ve been around the medical field my entire life, and to see the work being done at CHOC is just outstanding.
Q: What is your favorite memory from 20 years of participating in CHOC Follies?
Diane: Having the chance to perform at important venues around Orange County has been very special. It’s fun to remember way back when to the first show and how different our costumes were! The veterans in the cast also love to welcome new cast members.
Mia: The second year of the Follies my daughter Monique was able to participate. The theme was The Wizard of OC, and she was selected to play the lead, and I was the good witch. It was so fun to perform on stage with her in that particular role.
Skipper Tim: I’ve had a lot of great memories; it’s hard to pick just one. I’ve played everything from Scooby Doo to Phyllis Diller, the late actress and comedian. One time on opening night, while on stage and standing on a riser, my line was up, when suddenly my heel got caught on the riser. I almost fell into the audience! The audience thought it was funny and part of the show of course.
Q: Why should the CHOC community attend CHOC Follies?
Diane: The majority of people don’t have a background in musical theater or vocals, but by the end of the show everyone is singing and dancing with the rest of the group. We are giving back to the community by doing something that we love.
Mia: Those supporters who have attended the Follies are always quite surprised at the amount of talent and energy by those in the community who volunteer their time for such a wonderful cause to benefit the precious kids at CHOC. The CHOC Follies is really a ‘fun-raiser.’
Skipper Tim: There are a lot of talented people in the show, from dancers to singers, and they’re all great. The focus is on the kids at CHOC. We’re just the messengers.