It’s been ages since I’ve been able to write a review of a Broadway show. Unfortunately, Broadway ticket prices have become so high that it really is a once in a blue moon treat. I was privileged to receive the tickets for Follies as a gift. Actually the tickets were originally for a preview performance in August, but that was cancelled when all Broadway shows were shut down in advance of Hurricane Irene. So we were “re-ticketed” (a new word for me, but a good one) and got to see the show after its actual opening.
I knew a few basics about the plot and music of Follies. It originally played on Broadway in 1971. It is classic Stephen Sondheim with complex characters and sophisticated, modern music. Even though it takes place in 1971, the themes are as current as they could be.
Bernadette Peters is the top-billed star, but there are really four stars with equally important roles. Even a number of the peripheral characters have important lines/songs. Peters plays a part that is a bit younger than she actually is, but she pulls it off. She is an extraordinarily talented actress and singer.
The role of Sally Durant seems to have been made for Peters. Sally is a former “Weismann Girl”. She was a cast member of the “Weismann Follies”; a long-running theater troupe. The story of Follies opens when Mr. Weismann holds a reunion at the aging theater where his Follies played for many years. The theater is about to be torn down to make room for a parking lot, and Weismann wishes to pay tribute to the heyday of his theater.
Sally and her husband Buddy attend the reunion, along with Phyllis Rogers, another Weismann girl who was Sally’s roommate and best friend during their Follies years. Phyllis’ husband Ben was Buddy’s friend, and there is a lot of history between the two couples. It is re-visited through flashbacks, where the roles are played by other actors. Yes, it may sound confusing when eight people on stage are playing four roles at the same time, but it works.
If you love the theater, and especially if you enjoy a play about the theater, then I highly recommend this production of Follies.