note: entire contents copyright 2003 by Beverly Creasey
You know those Metropolitan Opera galas on PBS, with Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti and Renata Scotto all on one stage for a spectacular evening of music? Well, Boston had its own version of a GALA at the John Hancock Hall this past weekend. Just about every star in the local firmament had a role in producer Deb Poppel’s FOLLIES IN CONCERT. Sondheim’s glorious musical, about a reunion of performers from a l940s Follies production, works even better as a concert than it does fully staged. Poppel even brought in Broadway legend, Len Cariou to play the jaded mover and shaker who learns, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, what he needs, not what he wants.
The singers could enter through the orchestra ( a whole, lovely, delicious on stage orchestra, led by Michael Joseph) or from the wings, as if it were a full production. It came mighty close, directed by the wily Spiro Veloudos, costumed to the hilt by Rita Sclavunos and Richard Itczak and cleverly choreographed by Ilyse Robbins.
You felt as if you had been invited to a command performance: What a thrill to see Leigh Barrett (in a slinky, drop dead red gown) devour the exquisite “Losing My Mind.” Or Bobbie Steinbach killing like a stand up queen with “I’m Still Here.” Or Maryann Zschau’s breathtaking, sharp as a knife “Could I Leave You?” Or Mary Callanan’s precocious, show stopping “Broadway Baby.” Or Kathy St. George’s tiger cub come-on of “Ah, Paris.” Or Paula Markowicz’ righteous “Who’s That Woman.”
Brad Pelloquin dazzled with his gorgeous ‘radio’ tenor in “Beautiful Girls” and Frank Gayton broke your heart with “The Right Girl.” I could go on and on. Suffice it to say, Deb Poppel can work miracles. Anyone who can pull this off (and look great on stage, too!) deserves all the kudos we can heap upon her. Just cross your fingers she doesn’t stop.