Vaudeville, they say, had its heyday 100 years ago. But in Olympia, Lord Franzannian’s Royal Olympian Spectacular Vaudeville Show is having its heyday right now.
The 13th annual vaudeville show, a blend of music, comedy, dance and acts that can’t easily be classified, opens Friday, and all signs suggest that it’s more popular than ever.
Last year, all eight performances sold out, so planning ahead is encouraged for those who’d like to see an elaborate lindy hop number, admire a 75-year-old tap dancer and marvel at just what can be done with a yo-yo.
The show will also include a magician, a stand-up comedian, a comical burlesque act and — fair warning — a mime.
This year, there were more local performers than ever eager to show their stuff, said Elizabeth Lord, who produces and curates the show and serves as its host, the rosy-cheeked Lord Franzannian, whose stout figure comes thanks to the kind of belly pad actresses use to simulate pregnancy. (For Franzannian, Lord wears it upside down.)
“I selected 18 acts and I had to decline 10,” Lord told the Olympian. “In the past few years, the numbers have been increasing. … It’s really nice when there’s a wider pool.”
There’s also a wider range of ages than in most years, thanks to tap dancer Laurel Busse-Johnston, 75, who performed with Wrinkles of Washington for 12 years till the group disbanded.
Like most of the show’s acts, hers has a little something extra.
“There’s definitely a twist,” she told the Olympian. “I have a little patter that I do before the dance, and it’s a little twisted.
“And then my costume is ridiculous,” she said. “It’s truly ridiculous. It’s one of the Wrinkles of Washington costumes. … And to top it off, I’ll be carrying pom-poms.”
Busse-Johnston was inspired to audition for the show because she’s a fan of Lord, who serves as the bingo caller for Senior Services of South Sound.
“She’s a hoot,” the dancer said. “She always wears a costume, and she always does silly things. I thought she was great fun and I wanted to work with her.”
Also among the show’s featured performers are Philip Allison of String and Shadow Puppet Theater, Luz of Tsunami Pinata and old-time musical duo Scott “Scuff” Acuff and Al Metheny.
Many of the performers have appeared multiple times, though always with different material. “I don’t want to have the same show every year,” Lord said.
Busse-Johnston, though, has never even seen the show.
“It’s going to be a real experience,” she said.
Lord Franzannian’s Royal Olympian Spectacular Vaudeville Show
What: The 13th annual vaudeville extravaganza, hosted by the jovial Lord Franzannian (the alter ego of performer/director Elizabeth Lord), is a funny and fresh take on the traditional vaudeville show.
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday plus Oct. 19, 20 and 21, with family-friendly matinees at 2 p.m. Sunday and Oct. 21
Where: Octapas Cafe, 414 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia
Tickets: $15-$25 for adults and $7 for those 15 and younger (for the matinees only), with no one will be turned away for lack of funds
More information: professionaltalker.com
Also: Shows are recommended for ages 16 and older, except the matinees, suited for all ages.