As Folsom Street Theatre’s latest
show “Folsom Gold” opens, eight-year-old Zoe Comstock and five-year-old
Annie Mauro are asked by Christopher Celestin if they’d like to hear
about the history of Folsom. Zoe replies “Boring!” but the show totally
proves her wrong.
Written and directed by Sutter
Street resident genius Connie Mockenhaupt, “Folsom’s Gold” immediately
fills its tiny stage with 17 performers who tell the story of the role
Folsom and the surrounding territory played in the California Gold Rush.
The narration contains a lot of fascinating information (no, there won’t
be a pop quiz after the show), but it is handed off from one performer
to another who approach the facts with such enjoyment and enthusiasm
that you are sure to see why history class in high school was never this
But the real fun of the show is the
exuberant singing and dancing to the songs of the era. It seemed to me
that the entire cast was on stage for the entire 90 minutes, segueing
flawlessly between ensemble songs, brief solos, and enthusiastic
dancing. And of course the history lesson.
There isn’t a weak actor in the
show. Three hugely talented families make up a large percentage of the
cast. Frequent Sutter Street regular Mary Comstock appears with her two
wonderful daughters Mia and Zoe. The four Matta siblings Benjamin,
Jonathan, Josh, and Rebecca have been seen frequently on this stage and
always exhibit talent and stage presence that make them seem pros. Not
seen enough is the beautiful natural actress Kelly Mauro and her two
daughters Grace and Annie. And let me predict that the one performer you
will be talking about after the show is the adorable Annie making her
stage debut at age five. Her Irish jig and intro to “Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra,”
which she sings to her rag doll, were, for me, the highlights of this
delightful show. I can’t wait to see her as she grows up to join her
very talented older sister and her mom.
A few other performers also stood
out for me. Dylan Thuss-Shelly has fully matured as an all-around song
and dance man. David Valpreda, whom I have not seen before, has an
outstanding voice. And Chris Celestine does an excellent job, as he has
often done at Sutter Street in review-type shows, of holding things
together with his humorous delivery, vigorous dancing, and terrific
As is usually the case in shows here
where music dominates, the keyboard work of John Wilder is nothing less
than brilliant. A word to the wise—come early to see the pre-show
performance of John on the banjo. Worth the price of a ticket!
The show, which has become a Sutter
Street tradition, plays for only two weekends, so you must see it
Friday, Saturday, or Sunday of this week. Though not officially a part
of their Family Series, this is a show that will certainly entertain the
whole family. The show concludes that the real gold in Folsom was the
people who built the town. The real gold in “Folsom’s Gold” is also the
people: Connie Mockenhaupt, John Wilder, and the talented cast.