FOLLIES FOLLIES: The successful revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman's Follies at the Paper Mill Playhouse in N.J. got me thinking back to 1971, when I was assigned by Look Magazine to attend the original production's rehearsals and Boston premiere, in order to write a feature article. At the opening two bizarre incidents occurred. The setting of the show was described in playbill as: "A party on the stage of this theatre after the performance." The first-night audience took this as an invitation to a post-performance party and stormed the stage door after the final curtain. The following day, the description of the setting was changed to: "A party on the stage of the Weismann Theatre after the performance."
The other incident occurred when the audience laughed at Dorothy Collins's memorable rendition of "Losing My Mind." A hasty meeting was held the next day, and it was concluded that Ms. Collins's wig and costume were wrong, leading the audience to regard the singer as "looney." At the second performance, attired in a new costume and wig, the singer stopped the show. Follies went on to Broadway and won seven Tony Awards.
TONY GAFFE: At the recent Tony Award festivities, I recalled a mishap that happened in 1950 when the Awards were presented at the Waldorf-Astoria. In those days only the winners' names were announced, and since the American Theatre Wing knew who they were, the awards were inscribed in advance. (Today, they are blank and must be returned by winners to be inscribed.)
In 1950 Shirley Booth and Sidney Blackmer were cited for their outstanding performances in Come Back, Little Sheba. Imagine their surprise when they read this inscription on their Tony Awards: "For your outstanding performance in South Pacific." South Pacific won nine Tonys that year, and the engraver must have gotten carried away.