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Well, my "little vacation" ended up lasting two and a half years... funny how life steers your life in directions you weren't planning on. I'll start off with occasional posts, but I fully plan to resume this blog to full speed by the new year.

I hope you'll come back for frequent visits, to see new reviews, to share opinions, to take a survey (or two), and to celebrate the shows and show people that have made the TheatreScene!

Jeff

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Saying Farewell to FOLLIES

It is never fun when a show you love closes... even when you know it is coming.  You try to get to the show one last time, listen to the cast recording over and over, and sit thinking back to the day it first comes into your life.  And so it is for me with the revival of Follies, which is set to close on Sunday.

For a devout Sondheim fan, I came to Follies late.  Prior to this production, I pretty much hated it, based solely on the Original Broadway Cast Recording.  Stupid, huh?  But you have to admit that recording stinks.  Fortunately, my obsession with making sure I see every new musical and revival got me to the Marquis Theatre.  And then, miracle of miracles, I was transformed - Follies really is one of Sondheim's master works.  Better late than never, as they say.

Thankfully, I had the chance to re-visit this marvelous, transforming production one last time before it leaves Broadway forever.  Yesterday afternoon, with a packed orchestra section full of fans and first-timers, I got to enjoy, one last time, the wonder that is Follies.  Here are but a few moments, characters and numbers that I will miss:


  • The ghosts of the Follies girls... Spooky, sexy, and beguiling, these ladies inhabit the ruins, gliding noiselessly around the set, recreating, with their older counterparts, moves remembered... I love the tap dancing chorines who rehearse their routines and you see them tap, but can't hear it... I love Young Heidi (Leah Horowitz), hiding among the ruins, peeking out shyly, drawn out only by Older Heidi (Rosalind Elias) herself and recreating past glory in the beautiful duet, "One More Kiss."... And I love the final follies girl leaving the theatre and trapping the young Ben, Buddy, Sally and Phyllis together forever...


  • "Who's That Woman?/Mirror, Mirror"... Where do I start?  Terri White's powerhouse performance?  Some of the stage's greatest actresses together in one glorious dance number?  The intoxicating coming together of past and present in a rotating kick-line?  The joy and sadness when the lights come up on the panting ladies struggling for breath but reveling in their memories?  All of that and more...


  • Young Ben, Buddy, Phyllis and Sally... Not only youthful reminders of what used to be - whole lives ahead of them, optimistic about a romanticized future - but terrific performers themselves.  Nick Verina, Christian Delcroix, Kirsten Scott and Lora Lee Gayer manage to remind us of the actors they are portraying, but also create fully separate characters that inform their older counterparts... You can see Ms. Peters in Miss Scott and vice versa... and they do my absolutely favorite number "You're Gonna Love Tomorrow/Love Will See Us Through"...


  • The tragic, sad performance of Bernadette Peters... Her Sally is delusional and lost... her tears flow as freely as her fits of fancy...  She is the embodiment of the profoundly sad undercurrent that is at the heart of Follies, and her gut-wrenching "Losing My Mind" brings both actress and audience to tears.  Tragic and brilliant...


  • The strong, phenomenal performance of Jan Maxwell... If I had my way, they'd just engrave her a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical and just be done with it... a beguiling mix of hardened steel and brokenhearted regret, Maxwell catches us with were smart quickness and biting wit, and keeps us under her spell as she confronts her past, her marriage and her future... "The Story of Lucy and Jessie" is a virtuoso study in musical theatre acting, singing and dancing... she is a triumph...


  • And finally...the haunting sounds of a creaking theatre, laughter of excited young performers, tap dancing and hushed strains of long ago applause... walking into the Marquis Theatre, confronted with decay, work lights and those eerie sound effects certainly set the tone and plunge us into the world of Follies...it also serves as a sobering reminder of the ethereal quality of live theatre, with each moment gone as soon as it is here... walking into the Marquis Theatre from here on out will never be the same...


Best wishes to the company as they travel on to L.A. and beyond...

(Production photos by Joan Marcus, logo by Fraver, Follies girl outsider pose by BroadwayWorld.com)

Jeff
3.143

2 comments:

  1. Don't be sad that "Follies" is closing... I hadn't even the chance to go to NY and see a performance - and Follies was and still is oneof my favourite shows... Oh, I wish I had seen it!!!!!!!! Tell us more about it and Peters (I LOVE her!)

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  2. I went into this show solely for Bernadette Peters and emerged completely in love with the entire production. Follies will be missed... :(

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