Hats Off, Here It Comes: Eric Schaeffer Reimagines Follies in DC Area, April 1-June 1

News   Hats Off, Here It Comes: Eric Schaeffer Reimagines Follies in DC Area, April 1-June 1 Eric Schaeffer, who artistic-directed the Kennedy Center's Sondheim Celebration in summer 2002, but wasn't able to include Follies on the slate, tackles the one that got away at his resident theatre, Signature, in Arlington, VA, starting April 1.
Eric Schaeffer
Eric Schaeffer

Performances April 1-May 15 are sold out, but there is still availability for the extension to June 1, a Signature spokesman told Playbill On-Line.

Broadway's Florence Lacey headlines as Sally Durant and Judy McLane plays Phyllis Stone in the revival that is billed by Signature Theatre as "re-imagined" and "re-invented."

A full orchestra will play Jonathan Tunick's recently revised orchestrations.

Joseph Dellger plays Ben Stone and Harry Winter is Buddy Durant in the expressionistic musical (book by James Goldman, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim) about two couples attending a reunion of "follies" showgirls in a theatre that is about to be torn down. Memories swirls, regrets come to the surface and the younger ghosts of the aging former showfolk appear from the darkness.

The Signature staging is within a black box setting. The announcement of the show, which includes such songs and "Losing My Mind" and "Broadway Baby," prompted a quick sell-put of the six-week run, so a three-week extension was announced. Choreography is by Karma Camp, set design is by Lou Stancari and lights are by Chris Lee.

The opening is set for April 7.

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Schaeffer, whose Broadway brush with Sondheim was helming the revue, Putting It Together, has been devoted to Sondheim's work at the Signature for a decade. For the Kennedy Center's 2002 Sondheim retrospective, he staged Passion and Sunday in the Park With George. Follies is a show Schaeffer has wanted to do for years.

"This production will be like no other," he said in production notes. "In order to make it happen we needed a very special set of circumstances. That included a staff working at peak performance and a funding community willing to make this show a financial possibility. There’s no way we could afford to put 35 people on stage and 14 musicians in the orchestra without extra help from our friends. Maxine Isaacs and Jim Johnson, Perry and Marty Granoff, Gil and Jaylee Mead, and Helen Henderson are the ones who made this possible."

Florence Lacey's credits include the title role in Evita on Broadway and international tour and two Broadway revivals of Hello, Dolly! with Carol Channing, plus Jerry Herman's The Grand Tour, opposite Joel Grey. She has appeared on the Signature stage under Schaeffer's direction in The Rhythm Club and The Gospel According to Fishman and played Yvonne in his production of Sunday In The Park With George at the Kennedy Center.

McLane first worked with Schaeffer on the national tour of big. A Paper Mill Playhouse alum, she played title roles in Evita and Victor/Victoria, as well as Aldonza in Man of La Mancha and Nancy in Oliver. She appeared as Marta in Kiss of the Spider Woman under the direction of Hal Prince and the Baker’s Wife in Into The Woods under the direction of James Lapine.

Joseph Dellger played Father in Ragtime both on Broadway and on its national tour. Regional credits include lead roles in Kander & Ebb's The Visit at the Goodman Theatre, Man of La Mancha at Goodspeed Opera House and Hamlet at Chicago's Court Theatre.

Harry Winter most recently played patriarch H.C. Curry in Signature's production of 110 in the Shade. He played opposite Lacey in The Gospel According to Fishman.

A who's-who of DC star talent is promised for the ensemble cast, which famously allows many chances in the spotlight: Will Gartshore as Young Buddy, Tracy Olivera as Young Sally, Sean MacLaughlin as Young Ben and A.K. Brink as Young Phyllis. Signature Theatre co-founder and Helen Hayes Award-winner Donna Migliaccio plays Carlotta Campion, singing the landmark "I’m Still Here." Cabaret regular Judy Simmons performs "Broadway Baby"; Dana Krueger brings her operatic training to "One Last Kiss"; Suzanne Briar takes the lead on "Who's That Woman?"; Ilona Dulaski and Steven Cupo do the honors with "Rain On The Roof"; and Elizabeth van den Berg tackles "Ah, Paris!"

The cast of 35 also include Signature regulars Chrystyna Dail, Eleasha Gamble and Nancy Grosshans.

Costume designer Robert Perdziola makes his Signature debut after winning the 2002 Helen Hayes Award for his work on The Shakespeare Theatre production of Don Carlos.

Jon Kalbfleisch serves as music director and conducts newly revised orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick.

Tickets are $38-$40. Signature Theatre is located five miles from Washington, DC, at 3806 S. Four Mile Run Drive, Arlington, VA, immediately off I-395 at the Shirlington exit. For information, call (703) 218-6500 or (800) 955-5566, or visit www.signature-theatre.org.