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Getting together for a few Follies

Jennifer K Mahal

Michelle Reinglass is a busy attorney. Heidi Miller started a chain of

frozen yogurt shops. Keith Morrison is a “Dateline NBC” correspondent.

What do they have in common? Besides the fact they all live in Laguna

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Beach, all three, plus more than 85 others, will be on stage May 17-19 in

the sixth annual Children’s Hospital Orange County Follies, “The Slipper

and the Surfer.” Morrison will appear in videotaped form.

There are few, if any, professional actors, singers or dancers in the

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Follies, which will be held in a tent across from the Orange County

Performing Arts Center.

“The people on stage who are there are otherwise in suits,” Reinglass

said. “They’re business people, Wall Street-type people. They’re not out

of the box too often. But you see them in this element, they come alive.”

Every year, creator and executive producer Gloria Zigner recruits

people from all walks of society to rehearse an original musical two or

three times a week for several months. “It’s a large commitment, you have

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to be a giver,” said Miller, who will perform in her third Follies.

“That’s what I like about it. . . . There are no prima donas, no divas.”

Director John Vaughan, choreographer Lee Martino and music director

Doug Austin whip the cast into shape for a weekend of performances.

“I work a gazillion hours a week,” said Reinglass from her cell phone.

“I have no business saying yes to the show.”

But every year -- except one -- since the beginning, she has gotten

into costume and joined the chorus.

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“We get to rehearsal and I see all the people commit and never lose

sight of the cause,” Reinglass said. “When I get to rehearsal, I say ‘Ah,

this is why I do this. This is why I got three hours of sleep last

night.”’

So far, the Follies has raised more than $1 million for the hospital,

which has facilities in Orange and at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo.

“Gloria reminds us that we’re not just doing it for fun, but to get

ticket sales and sponsorships,” Reinglass said.

Follies participants are required give a $500 personal check as a

promise that they will raise or sell at least that much in sponsorships

and ticket sales.

“Most people never ask for their check back,” Zigner said.

This year’s cast also includes Marla Hodes, Pat Kollenda, Alison

Lorimore, Elizabeth Pearson and Megan Rainnie of Laguna Beach. Prominent

businessman John Crean will perform alongside Costa Mesa Mayor Linda

Dixon. Skipper Tim Bercovitz of the American Legion Yacht Club in Newport

Beach will play an aging hippie.

“They write parts for people, which is so neat,” said Miller, who

plays a hippie beach chick in the Orange County Cinderella story. “It’s

probably the funniest and most philanthropic musical you will ever see.”

What makes such divergent people come together? Two things -- Zigner

and the hospital itself. When asked why they participate in the Follies,

most people claim former hospital foundation President Zigner as the

reason they are there.

“She talked me into trying out,” said Leslie Cancellieri, who is

co-chairing the Follies with Sandy Segerstrom Daniels and Dale Skiles.

“I’d never been on stage before. I told her I had no talent. She said it

was OK.”

Miller and Reinglass also joined the Follies partly because of Zigner.

“Gloria gets you,” Miller said. “She gets that hook in your mouth and

won’t let it go.”

Then there are the children. Both Miller and Reinglass have had

relatives born at Children’s Hospital. One of the requirements of being

in the Follies is taking a tour of the wards.

“You think you have a handle on what the hospital has done until you

go and see,” Reinglass said. “And you see the children, it’s

heartwrenching and rending because you know many of them survive because

of the care they get from CHOC.”

* Jennifer K Mahal is an editor with Times Community News. She can be

reached at jennifer.mahal@latimes.com or (949) 574-4282.

FYI

* What: CHOC Follies “The Slipper and the Surfer”

* Where: A tent across from the Orange County Performing Arts Center,

Town Center Drive and Avenue of the Arts, Costa Mesa

* When: 8 p.m. May 17, 2 and 8 p.m. May 18, and 2 p.m. May 19

* Cost: Evening performances -- $25 general admission, $50 reserved

seats, $100 includes cast party. Matinees -- $25 general admission, $25

reserved seats.

* Call: (714) 532-8690


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