Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Follies"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 2008 by Larry Stark


"Follies"

Book by James Goldman
Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Directed by Spiro Veloudos
Musical Direction by Jonathan Goldberg
Choreography by Ilyse Robbins

Scenic Design by Janie E. Howland
Lighting Design by Scott Clyve
Costume Design by Rafael Jaen
Props by Natalie Kearns
Dance Captain Jennifer Beth Glick
Assistant Stage Manager Nerys Powell
Production Stage Manager Robin Grady

Dmitri Weismann........Arthur Waldstein
Sally Durant Plummer......Leigh Barrett
Young Sally..............Michele DeLuca
Buddy Plummer............Peter A. Carey
Young Buddy................Phil Crumine
Ben Stone.................Larry Daggett
Young Ben...................Josh Dennis
Phyllis Rogers Stone.....Maryann Zschau
Young Phyllis.............Aimee Doherty
Stella Deems..............Kerry Dowling
Young Stella.....Kerrin Elizabeth Clark
Hattie Walker.............Jacqui Parker
Young Hattie..............Emilie Battle
Carlotta Campion.......Bobbie Steinbach
Young Carlotta.......Jordan Kai Burnett
Solange LaFitte........Kathy St. George
Young Solange.......Jennifer Beth Glick
Theodore Whitman..........Frank Aronson
Young Theodore.............Michael Wood
Emily Whitman................Deb Poppel
Young Emily......Caitlin Crosbie Doonan
Heidi Schiller..............Dawn Tucker
Young Heidi...............April Pressel
Roscoe......................Chuck Walsh
Mike........................Curly Glynn
Ensemble...................Mark Linehan
Ensemble................David Sharrocks

ORCHESTRA
Conductor/Keyboards...............Jonathan Goldberg
Violin............................Stanley Silverman
Reeds.......................Ray Taranto, Louis Toth
Trumpet/Flugelhorn...Paul Perfetti, Brendan Kierman
Trombone................................Hide Domeki
Percussion..........................Desiree Glazier
Sound Consultant....................Jeffrey Leonard
Orchestra Managers........Paul Perfetti, Louis Toth

This show begins in a dark theatre. Two men play flashlights about as an eerie overture plays (Jonathan Goldberg's orchestra is sublime) and sometimes they illuminate ghosts --- because the past and the present often intertwine here. Past passions and present infidelities, choices and revisions interact in the shadows, performers in their fifties try to remember routines their younger selves perform so effortlessly, and brooding over it all is tomorrow's wrecking-ball. On the surface, this shadow-play brings together a dozen and more of the long-reigning famous stars of Boston theater for a gala cast reunion of "The Weismann Follies" that made the theatre famous. In that milieu are two couples that married in haste --- at least they've come to think so --- whose reunion sparks all sorts of possibilities. This is an complicated, engrossing story peppered with pointed Sondheim lyrics, and with delightful asides. I mean, if you've ever hoped to hear Jacqui Parker sing, or to see Kerry Dowling in tap-shoes, this is your golden opportunity!

That quartet at the center of the action creates an often tempestuous, sometimes desperate maelstrom of revelations. Leigh Barrett plays an empty-nester hoping for a second chance. Peter A. Carey plays an eternally-travelling salesman never certain of what he can have or doesn't want. Maryann Zschau plays a woman who has learned to get anything she wants except the loving attention of her spouse. And Larry Daggett plays a worldly success who cannot love himself. In the second act, pushed by the nostalgia, these four are thrown into "Loveland" --- a gaudily, flowery "Follies" world of true-love illusion in which their songs, though done in the by-gone style of glitter and froth and dancing choruses, cut to the bone.

Actually, this production --- which opens the Lyric Stage's 35th season --- spills nostalgia in all directions. I have known the work of many of these performers for a decade, and last night someone read to me a quote out of my own 1971 review of "Follies" (on page 109 of Ted Chapin's "Everything Was Possible: The Birth of the Musical 'Follies' "). I don't think I loved this show more than anyone else could, but I will not apologize if that happens to be true. If you can get a ticket to this sell-out hit, see for yourself.

"Follies " (5 September - 11 October)
LYRIC STAGE COMPANY OF BOSTON, INC.
140 Clarendon Street, BOSTON MA
1(617) 585-5678

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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