New York record stores were selling the two-disc cast album of the Paper Mill Playhouse's Follies as early as last week, but Nov. 3 is the official national release date for TVT Records' recording.
The album of the 1998 New Jersey Paper Mill revival of the Stephen Sondheim cult favorite musical captures the 24-song score and performances of legends who appeared in the spring run: Ann Miller, Donna McKechnie, Phyllis Newman, Liliane Montevecchi, Eddie Bracken, Donald Saddler, Kaye Ballard and Tony Roberts.
Laurence Guittard, Dee Hoty and Natalie Mosco are also featured.
The discs are being dubbed "definitive" by TVT because they include previously unrecorded dance music ("Bolero d'Amour," "The Right Girl," "Who's That Woman"), plus appendix material of unused and/or somewhat rare Follies songs such as "Bring on the Girls," "Who Could Be Blue/Little White House," "Pleasant Little Kingdom," "All Things Bright and Beautiful" (which inspired the haunted waltz in the overture), "Can That Boy Fox Trot!," and "That Old Piano Roll."
"Uptown, Downtown" and "The Story of Lucy and Jessie" were written for the same spot in the show (for the character of Phyllis), as was "Ah, But Underneath." "Uptown" and "Lucy and Jessie" appear in the appendix on the disc and "Underneath" is in the score proper. The show premiered on Broadway in 1971 under the direction of Harold Prince. It was not a financial success, but its eerie atmosphere, ghostly youth vs. decay tension (from James Goldman's book) and pastiche score (punctuated by blistering, pyschological reality songs) earned the score a loyal, if specialized, following. The Broadway album truncated the score. There was a previous London cast album and a New York concert album.
The Paper Mill cast album was recorded in June under composer Sondheim's supervision at Edison Recording Studios in New York. Grammy Award Nominee Robert Sher (1776, Sugar Babies, She Loves Me) produced the recording, conducted by Tony Award-winning orchestrator Jonathan Tunick.
The Follies packaging includes a 40-page booklet with illustrations by Hilary Knight. The booklet also features notes by composer-lyricist Sondheim, New York Times columnist Frank Rich and Theodore S. Chapin of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization.
Follies is the second title to emerge from TVT's Broadway division. Earlier this year, TVT released the new Broadway revival cast recording of the 1776 and the cast recording to Madison Square Garden's The Wizard of Oz.
TVT Records is part of the TVT label group which includes Wax Trax!, Blunt Recordings, Building Records and TVT Soundtrax.
A hoped-for Broadway transfer of the Paper Mill staging (directed by Robert Johanson) never materialized, despite solid reviews from New York press.
-- By Kenneth Jones