Rider Presents Will Rogers Follies

Lauren Still

Rider University’s musical theatre program presents the musical Will Rogers Follies, beginning with the preview performance on Wednesday, May 1, and running through Sunday, May 5, in the Yvonne Theatre on Rider's Lawrenceville campus .

The six-time Tony Award-winning musical Will Rogers Follies recounts the story of the famous American performer and humorist. Will Rogers was renowned as a vaudeville performer, as well as a cowboy, social commentator, columnist and radio personality. 

Will Rogers Follies touches on several political issues from the 1930s that are still prominent today. This piece not only touches on Rogers’ life but illustrates a deeper meaning.

Director Robin Lewis says, “I feel the meaning of the show is human kindness. The world is topsy-turvy right now, and I also think this message is so important for our students…before we judge someone, as [Rogers] says in the show, ‘Try the shoes on that are his, feel what makes him what he is, what it's like inside his skin, living in the skin he's in.’"

Lewis is both the director and the choreographer of the musical. A member of Rider’s faculty, he was the director for White ChristmasNewsies and Bonnie and Clyde, and he has choreographed the musical numbers of Newsies and Heathers. Before joining the Rider faculty, he toured with Broadway shows for more than 12 years.

Nathan Hurwitz, also a member of Rider’s faculty, is the show’s music director. He has more than 30 years of experience as a musical director and has served as musical director for several Rider productions. He is also known for his scholarly works on musical theatre.

Will Rogers encountered issues during the '30s that we still grapple with today, and following the preview performance, there will be a special panel discussion focusing on some of the issues addressed in the show, such as gender equality, the environment, racial justice and politics. The panelists will be Dr. Michael Brogan, associate professor of political science; Dr. Donna Clovis, author, journalist and professor; Melissa Greenberg, the University's sustainability manager; Robin Lewis; Dr. Pamela Pruitt, director of Rider University’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion; Dr. Frank Rusciano, professor of political science; Sheldon Steele, a senior musical theatre major and Kristin Wisneski, a sophomore musical theatre major.

Performances are Wednesday, May 1, at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 2, at 7:30 p.m., Friday, May 3, at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 4, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 5, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for Rider students and seniors. They can be purchased online at, by calling 609-896-7775 or at the Box Office in the Yvonne Theatre. General admission preview tickets are $9 for adults and $5 for students and seniors and are only available at the door. For more information, visit