TOP

No more Tony and Vinny in Junior Company? I’ll miss them as a pair, but life (like the show) goes on

I’m set this weekend to see the new Good Company Players production of “Hairspray.” (It opened last weekend, but I ran out of time.) I’ll be at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater early, as always, to catch the performance of the Junior Company. I love watching these talented young thespians sing and dance. One of the most fulfilling things about never missing the Juniors is getting to track these kids as they grow up.

Pictured above: Tony and Vinny Folmer in their costumes for the Junior Company.

Time flies quickly, of course. At one show they’re just little tykes riding the “Aww, isn’t he cute” wave — a time-honored child-performer tradition — and the next it seems as if they’re as tall as a graduation speaker and ready to drive.

It makes me a tiny bit sad to know there’s one pair of performers I won’t see anymore together in the Juniors. I’ve been fans of brothers Tony and Vinny Folmer ever since I first saw them light up the stage together in 2016. They weren’t in every show, but they were regulars.

They’ve always made a great team, both visually and personality-wise. A six-and-a-half year age difference separates the two, which meant a nice contrast between them, height-wise, but both have similar blond hair and infectious smiles. Tony (a junior at Buchanan High School), now 17, is the big brother, smooth and cool, but as a Junior he never lost that little-boy joy. Vinny (a student at Dry Creek Elementary), 10, is the cute-as-a-button kid brother who knows when to turn on the youthful charm — and when to play like a grownup to coax laughs from the audience.

Tony “aged out” of the Juniors, alas. “Mamma Mia” was his last show in the group. Vinny will be the sole Folmer continuing on.

SPONSORED CONTENT



Besides me, I know at least one other person who was a little sad as well at the brothers’ final Junior performance together. Their mother, Lindsay Folmer, spent a lot of time these past few years as one of the parents leaning against the wall of the theater to watch the Juniors pre-show.

“I definitely bawled,” she says of the March 17Mamma Mia” matinee marking the close of the run. “I was the crying mom on the wall. It was emotional, because I just know how much the Junior Company means to Tony.”

As for the boys themselves, I asked them to do a question-and-answer interview to talk about the experience.

Q: You both joined Juniors at the same time, in 2016, for the pre-show of “My Fair Lady.” What do you remember about that first performance?

TONY: I remember being super nervous while warming up on that first night. I was scared that I would royally screw up on stage for my first performance as a Junior Company member. Once it was over, I was so excited because not only did I not screw up, but I knew that I was going to experience that thrill for months and even years to come.


The Munro Review has no paywall but is financially supported by readers who believe in its non-profit mission of bringing professional arts journalism to the central San Joaquin Valley. You can help by signing up for a monthly recurring paid membership or make a one-time donation of as little as $3. All memberships and donations are tax-deductible.

VINNY: I was only seven years old, so I was mostly nervous. When I saw all that I had to memorize, I honestly wanted to quit, but once the performances started happening, I liked it more and more.

Q: What is your favorite Juniors number you’re performed together?

TONY: Getting to flip him in the air every night during “Greatest American Hero” (“Footloose” pre-show) was pretty fun.

VINNY: “Staying Alive” was my favorite performance together because we got to perform the song together, and it was really funny listening to him go up in falsetto.

Q: What do you think is your brother’s best performance quality/talent?

TONY: By far it’s his comedic timing and improv ability. That kid can make up hilarious stuff on the fly.

VINNY: Tony is a very strong dancer, and the fact that he can sing well while doing it is pretty amazing.

Good Company Players

The Junior Company for the second production of ‘Mamma Mia.’

Q: What is one thing that drives you crazy about your brother?

TONY: I try to make a valid point to him, but he doesn’t take it seriously and plays it off with comic relief.

VINNY: How long do you want this article to be? LOL! Probably the worst thing is that he acts like he’s my dad when we are performing or rehearsing together.

Q: What’s your favorite backstage story or performance mix-up involving your brother?

TONY: During the first run of “Mamma Mia,” we performed in a trio with Colby Priest singing “Staying Alive.” Vinny forgot his microphone backstage, and I tried to cover his high notes for him … that didn’t go over so well.

VINNY: Probably the most hilarious story for me was when he had to pick up Joy Smith during a performance and she smacked him upside his head with a microphone. I definitely high-fived her for that one!

Q: Make a prediction: What do you think your brother will be doing in 20 years?

TONY: I can definitely see him in the cast of “Saturday Night Live.”

VINNY: My brother in 20 years will be sitting on the street begging for change. J/K! I’m sure he’ll still be in the theater business somehow.

Q: How did you feel during your last performance together in Juniors?

TONY: I personally was sad that I wouldn’t be able to be in the Junior Company again, but I know sooner or later, Vinny and I will perform in a show together again. Who knows, in the next few years I may be able to direct him in Juniors … then he’d have to take me seriously or he’s sitting out.

VINNY: I was pretty sad. I felt really bad for Tony because he loved being part of the Junior Company and it was his last time.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

TONY:I honestly hope that Vinny succeeds in theater if he decides to stick with it because I see a big future ahead for him. In the meantime, go check him out as Les in “Newsies” at Roger Rocka’s this summer.

VINNY: I’m going to miss Tony saying after every pre-show, “Good job today, Juniors.” He said he’d charge a copyright fee to anyone who said it after him. Oh, and I’ll miss sitting in his car with other juniors during our lunch breaks at rehearsal.


 

SPONSORED CONTENT


Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

donaldfresnoarts@gmail.com

Leave a Reply