This month the Essential Theatre will present Essential Theatre Follies 2003: A Variety Show.

On Feb. 22 and 23, the third annual Essential Theatre Follies will feature participants from the community, faculty and administrators of FAMU.

The participants will perform in the tradition of vaudeville, which was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Vaudeville is a form of on stage entertainment that offers short song-and-dance acts and comedy.

“It’s an opportunity to see people perform of all ages,” said director of theatre Valencia Matthews. “Whatever they’re comfortable with and is appropriate we let them do.”

Although the event is open to the community, it is not a forum for FAMU students to perform. Matthews said students have many other venues.

Matthews believes that the event will give people a chance to perform, who normally could not.

Matthews said the show has and will feature a “variety of people from different disciplines.”

Berlendah Gadson, a FAMU police officer, is a good example. He has played guitar in The Follies since it’s beginning.

“That’s [the stage] where I can be myself,” Gadson said. “It shows another side to me and it’s all for a good cause and positive results.”

The proceeds from the show will benefit the Irene C. Edmonds Youth Theatre summer camp, a program that helps youth from the community develop their acting skills.

Ivy Cohen, a participant of the I.C.E. Youth Theatre for four years, said the theatre program goes beyond teaching acting skills.

“The camp gives positive tools for young children and teenagers,” said Cohen, 18, senior at Sails High School. “It teaches choreography, set design, script writing as well as acting.”

Matthews said the program is always filled with “good spirit and people who want to share their talents.”

The Essential Theatre Follies will take place in The Charles Winterwood Theatre Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. Admission costs are $10 for adults, $7 for senior citizens, $5 for children and $3 for FAMU students with I.D.

Gabrielle Finley can be reached at