Hats Off: Follies in Concert, with Rita Moreno, Plays May 16 and 18

News   Hats Off: Follies in Concert, with Rita Moreno, Plays May 16 and 18 The Oakland East Bay Symphony concert presentation of Follies – featuring award-winning actress Rita Moreno – plays May 16 and 18 at Oakland's Paramount Theatre.
Rita Moreno
Rita Moreno Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman's groundbreaking 1971 musical is directed and conducted by Oakland East Bay Symphony music director Michael Morgan.

Moreno is cast as Hattie Walker and will belt out the Sondheim classic "Broadway Baby." She is joined onstage by Beach Blanket Babylon's star Val Diamond, cabaret performer Sharon McNight and opera singer Sheri Greenawald as well as Tami Dahbura, Joy Gim, Mindy Lym, Melody Moore, Katy Stephan, Darla Wigginton, Ben Jones, Trente Morant, Joral Schmalle, Clark Sterling, Greg Zema, the Berkeley Broadway Singers and members of the Golden Follies dance company.

Set on the dilapidated stage of the Weismann Theatre, Follies brings its cast of showbiz characters together for one final glance into their glorious and distorted past.

Follies – with its combination of character-driven material and pastiche songs – is a popular selection for concert presentation. Songs in the production include "Beautiful Girls," "Don't Look at Me," "Waiting for the Girls Upstairs," "Rain on the Roof," "Ah, Paris!," "Broadway Baby," "The Road You Didn't Take," "Bolero d'Amour," "In Buddy's Eyes," "Who's That Woman?," "I'm Still Here," "Too Many Mornings," "The Right Girl," "One More Kiss," "Could I Leave You?," "Loveland," "You're Gonna Love Tomorrow," "Love Will See Us Through," "The God-Why-Don't-You-Love-Me Blues," "Losing My Mind," "The Story of Lucie and Jessie" and "Live, Laugh, Love."

The musical has been staged in concert for Lincoln Center in 1985, City Center Encores! in 2007, and full-scale revival productions in London in 1987, at the Paper Mill Playhouse in 1998 and on Broadway in 2001. The original production of Follies – co-directed by Harold Prince and Michael Bennett – boasted legendary performances by showbiz pros including Dorothy Collins, Alexis Smith, John McMartin, Gene Nelson, Yvonne DeCarlo, Ethel Shutta, Mary McCarty and Fifi D'Orsay. Nominated for 11 Tony Awards, Follies earned eight Tonys including Best Original Score.

Rita Moreno earned her Academy and Golden Globe Awards for her portrayal of Anita in the film version of West Side Story. She received a Grammy Award in 1972 for her performance on "The Electric Company" album for children, based on the long-running television show of the same name. The Emmy Awards acknowledged her work in "The Muppet Show" and "The Rockford Files." In 1975 Moreno won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her work in The Ritz. Her recent stage credits include the London production of Sunset Boulevard and Terrence McNally's Master Class for Berkeley Rep.

Tickets for Oakland East Bay Symphony's concert staging of Follies are available by phoning (510) 625-8497 or by visiting www.OEBS.org.