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Theatre-goers, prepare yourself for a thrilling treat full of unexpected laughter and awe.

Fulton Follies, a variety-show style event at Lancaster's Fulton Theatre, will be taking the stage on Sunday, May 3. The show is the non-profit theatre's signature fundraising event, which provides support for their programs both on and off the stage.

The Fulton Theatre, which first opened in 1852, is considered "the nation's oldest continuously operating theatre," according to their website, and has been named as a National Historic Landmark.

In its storied history, the theatre has hosted the likes of W.C. Fields, Mark Twain and a number of the Barrymore's. It also includes shows similar to this event.

"The theater has done a number of Follies throughout the years," said Heather McCool, advancement coordinator with the Fulton.

This year, however, marks the 6th year of the annual Follies — and perhaps its most substantial iteration.

"This year's show will differ from last year's in that it is the largest scale performance company we have ever used in the Follies," said Randall Frizado, company and casting manager.

Participating organizations, he explained, will include a number of local organizations such as "Sight and Sound Theatre, Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre, Ephrata Performing Arts Center (EPAC), Prima Theatre Company and a women's tap group from The Willow Valley community."

Some of the groups' performances will include excerpts from theater favorites such as "Chess" (Prima Theatre Company), "Les Miserables" (Dutch Apple), and "Spamalot" (EPAC). These will be performed by theaters who are currently putting on the shows.

"We will also have performances from 2 Ring Circus, soprano Katie Wieland, the Rev 9 Dance Company, as well as a multitude of small group pieces," said Frizado.

This huge confluence of local theater companies and entertainment acts is a part of the Follies mission, bringing to light the area's top talents.

"We are trying to partner with art organizations that we have not in the past," said McCool.

"In years past, it has been a smaller scale event with mostly solo acts, and duets. This year we are pulling out all the stops to put on an event that all of Lancaster will be talking about for months to come," said Frizado.

In the spirit of collaboration that motivates the Follies, the theatre has also teamed up with local eateries.

"This is the second year we've partnered with restaurants," said McCool.

The participating downtown restaurants are Aussie & the Fox, The Belvedere Inn, Carr's Restaurant, Penn Square Grille, and The Pressroom. This partnership is aimed at "increasing the growth of downtown Lancaster," said McCool, which has been experiencing significant amounts of development.

For those who decide not to upgrade their tickets, a post-show dessert reception will also be available to all ticket-holders.

With so much planned, the theatre is once again expecting a spectacular showing of support.

"We had a great turnout last year and a great response this year," said McCool.

Of course, a huge crowd would be only natural when the Fulton provides the amount of quality and variety that they have planned for the Follies.

"With not only huge production numbers, large dance numbers and show stopping circus pieces, but also beautiful arias, and five-part harmony as well, there will certainly be something for everyone," said Frizado.

If all of this starts to sound like overload for potential audiences, Frizado provided guidance by summing up the night.

"Audiences should expect to have a thrilling evening of magnificent entertainment, presented by the highest caliber of entertainer in the country, all taking place in a beautiful historic venue," he said.

Tickets are available online at www.thefulton.org/support/fulton-follies/. Tickets start at $25; tickets including pre-show cocktails and dinner start at $125.

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