A parody performed during the Bus Barn Stage Company’s “Follies 2011” has drawn a critical review from Los Altos City Councilwoman Val Carpenter.
Carpenter, who attended a performance, said a parody vignette titled “State of Main” upset her because it misrepresented facts about downtown retail vacancies.
In response, Carpenter sent a letter to the theater company’s board of directors Oct. 30 voicing her concerns. The Town Crier obtained a copy of the letter from an anonymous source.
The lyrics in question, according to Carpenter’s letter, state in jest that “half the stores are closed now.”
“That is completely untrue,” said Carpenter, pointing to a Los Altos Village Association audit of downtown businesses that revealed a vacancy rate of 6-7 percent. “To say half the stores are closed now, even in jest, does a real disservice to our community.”
Carpenter said that while she has been a supporter of the arts since her youth, she’s concerned that the message in the song could hurt business in the downtown area.
In her letter to the Bus Barn Board of Directors, Carpenter emphasized that point, writing, “To overstate the retail vacancy rate by nearly an order of magnitude does a disservice to our community that could well hurt existing businesses and discourage new businesses from considering downtown Los Altos.”
Bus Barn Board of Directors President Vicki Reeder said the “Follies 2011” was produced to generate laughter and allow audiences to view issues in Los Altos in a different light.
“To me, it makes perfect sense that you comment on issues that come up in Los Altos,” Reeder told the Town Crier. “She’s missing the point of what satire and comedy are supposed to be about.”
Carpenter said she felt the performance singled out the Los Altos City Council, while giving other elected bodies in the area a free pass.
Carpenter’s letter stated that “it is therefore difficult not to take personally the Follies attacks on the Los Altos City Council made in the guise of ‘humor.’”
“They do seem to go out of their way to criticize the Los Altos City Council every year,” Carpenter told the Town Crier.
Reeder said the comedy performance, an annual fundraiser for the theater company held Oct. 6-8, featured 24 parodies on a variety of topics, including President Barack Obama.
Unlike earlier years, when the event poked fun at Los Altos issues almost solely, this year’s show featured “State of Main” as the lone parody on Los Altos, Reeder said.
“That hardly seems like singling out to me,” Reeder said.
Reeder said she plans to speak with Carpenter about the performance in the coming days. When it’s all said and done, Reeder noted, it’s important to keep in mind the true intention of the show.
“If you’re looking for serious commentary about issues,” she concluded, “you won’t find it at the Follies.”