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The Vaudeville Troupe to perform ‘It’s Vaudeville’

  • The Vaudeville Troupe show will be held at the Warner Town Hall on Saturday at 7 p.m. Picasa—Courtesy

  • The Vaudeville Troupe show started as an idea for a one-time fundraiser and became an annual tradition. Courtesy

  • The Vaudeville Troupe show will be held at the Warner Town Hall on Saturday at 7 p.m. Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 3/6/2019 5:02:36 PM

When Wally Borgen brought The Vaudeville Troupe together 12 years, she thought it was for a one-time performance.

The Fells in Newbury was looking for ideas to raise some money for the historic estate and Borgen, who was very involved with the nonprofit, thought putting on a show would be a great way to do it. During a fundraising meeting, one thing led to another and the story came up about how Vaudeville performers would spend their summers creating new acts in the Lake Sunapee area and put on shows for residents.

Borgen had never been a part of a Vaudeville show, but she had been a part of many other kinds – from talent to theater – during her days as an entertainer and figured why not give it a shot.

“I thought, ‘we could bring Vaudeville back to Newbury,’ ” Borgen said.

It went over so well that other nonprofits began seeking out their talents and on Saturday, the troupe will put on its 17th performance to raise funds for the Kearsarge Conservatory of Performing Arts in Warner. The show will be held at the Warner Town Hall on Saturday at 7 p.m.

“We just do it because we love to do it,” Borgen said.

Borgen describes Vaudeville as family entertainment suitable for all audiences and is a unique show in the fact that the only rehearsal is about three hours beforehand. Since it is a variety show in a sense, the acts are all independent of one another, so all the practice is done on their own. The one rehearsal is just to make sure people know when they need to be on stage.

It includes magicians and clowns, tap dancing, a rendition of “It’s Vaudeville” (the name of the show), singing and dancing, appearances by George Burns and Gracie Allen, and Groucho Marx, and even features Zoie the Wonder Dog, the pet of Kearsarge Conservatory of Performing Arts’s founder Angela Tarleton as they perform together.

“This has everything you’d see at a turn of the century Vaudeville show,” Borgen said.

In all, there will be almost 20 acts in the show in a nonstop display of humor, talent and entertainment. Some are solo and others feature multiple performers. Some are short and others, like the opener of “It’s Vaudeville” and the finale, are considerably longer.

“The show always changes from venue to venue,” Borgen said. “And nobody will leave without having laughed, smiled or enjoyed themselves.”

To date, the troupe’s shows have raised more than $37,000 for nonprofits and this one is earmarked to benefit Kearsarge Conservatory of Performing Arts’s scholarship program for young performers interested in dance, theater, song and instruments.

“This is the first outside organization doing a fundraiser for us,” Tarleton said. “And it was a no brainer to say yes.”

The term “break a leg” originated with Vaudeville, Borgen said. It was based on the premise that once you stepped foot on the stage a performer would be paid no matter if they finished.

In traditional Vaudeville style, there are no programs, rather a card girl who will display the upcoming act for the audience. Performers, who range from their 40s to 80s, take the stage in turn of the century attire.

Kearsarge Conservatory of Performing Arts was founded by Tarleton and her husband Kevin and was mostly considered a dance program in the beginning. Over the years, thanks to finding the right people to head different departments, it has grown to include a full conservatory program for voice and piano, as well as acting and musical theater and ballet. Tarleton works with students as young as 2½ years old all the way up to adults.

“We want people to be aware of what we’re doing for the community,” Tarleton said.

Kevin was involved with the first Vaudeville Troupe show in 2001, and Tarleton joined the following year. She did tap dancing and a baton routine and then made on offhanded comment to Borgen that next she’s going to want Zoie to perform. And turns out that’s exactly what Borgen was thinking.

“There was this one show where all I did was change my clothes because I was filling in for everyone’s parts,” Tarleton said.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children, and can be purchased in advance at or at the door. For more on Kearsarge Conservatory of Performing Arts, visit

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