It's curtains for Loveland and the denizens, ghostly and otherwise, of Dimitri Weisman's show palace, as the Roundabout Theatre Company's Broadway revival of Follies has announced a July 14 closing date. The show was originally supposed to end on that day, but early buzz and high hopes for Tony Award recognition prompted the producers to extend the show to Sept. 30 (and, in those weeks, change from a LORT to a more expensive commercial contract). As recently as June 4, the early closing date was described by a show spokesperson as a "vicious rumor."
Roundabout artistic director Todd Haimes said in a statement, "When Follies closes at the Belasco Theatre on July 14, it will have played a total of 19 weeks, all of which will have been profitable. Looking beyond July 14, however, we feel that — due to increasing costs and the relatively small size of our theatre [973 seats] — it would have been very difficult to meet our weekly operating expenses."
Left unsaid is the general sense that the revival didn't live up to the high expectations of theatre mavens and those who cherish the original production and its subsequent, CD-preserved revivals and recordings. Mark Thompson's brick-wall-and-lightbulb set design, followed by an intentionally garish pink dreamscape for the "Loveland" sequence, won few admirers and contributed to pre-opening scuttlebutt that the show was produced slightly on the cheap. Also, it didn't help that on June 3, 42nd Street won the Best Revival of a Musical Tony Award, that Blythe Danner lost Best Actress to Christine Ebersole, and that Featured Actress Polly Bergen (who sang a severely truncated "I'm Still Here" on the Tony broadcast) was bested by The Producers' Cady Huffman.
The revival of James Goldman and Stephen Sondheim's Follies opened April 5 at the Belasco Theatre, after starting previews March 8. Rehearsals began Jan. 18.
The Follies cast comprises Blythe Danner (Phyllis Rogers Stone), Gregory Harrison (Ben Stone), Judith Ivey (Sally Durant Plummer) and Treat Williams (Buddy Plummer), together with Polly Bergen (Carlotta Campion), Marge Champion (Emily Whitman), Betty Garrett (Hattie Walker), Joan Roberts (Heidi Schiller), Donald Saddler (Theodore Whitman), Jane White (Solange LaFitte), Carol Woods (Stella Deems), Louis Zorich (Dimitri Weisman), Erin Dilly (Young Phyllis), Brooke Sunny Moriber (Young Heidi), Larry Raiken (Roscoe), Nancy Ringham (Sandra Crane), Richard Roland (Young Ben), Joey Sorge (Young Buddy), Dorothy Stanley (Dee Dee West), Lauren Ward (Young Sally), Joan Barber, Roxane Barlow, Carole Bentley, Jessica Leigh Brown, Stephen Campanella, Peter Cormican, Colleen Dunn, Sally Mae Dunn, Dottie Earle, Aldrin Gonzalez, Jeffrey Hankinson, Amy Heggins, Jacqueline Hendy, Nadine Isenegger, Shannon Lewis, Rod McCune, Kelli O’Hara, T. Oliver Reid, Alex Sanchez, Allyson Tucker, Matt Wall and Wendy Waring. Directed by Matthew Warchus (Art, True West) and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall (Kiss Me Kate) the Follies creative team comprises set designer Mark Thompson, costume designer Theoni V. Aldredge, lighting designer Hugh Vanstone, sound designer Jonathan Deans, orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick and musical direction by Eric Stern. Frank Scardino is the show's executive producer.
Staging the musical favorite required that the Belasco be transformed into the crumbling Weisman Theatre on “the eve of its demolition.” There, ghosts and showgirls from the theatre's legendary past reunite and reflect on their lives.
When Follies opened at the Winter Garden on April 4, 1971 the production was directed by Harold Prince and Michael Bennett, with choreography by Bennett. Follies earned seven 1972 Tony Awards and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical.
Follies engenders strong opinions and support from theatregoers. Since previews began, audiences have been split into two broad camps. Those who saw earlier productions on Broadway, in London or at the Paper Mill Playhouse were more likely to compare the production values of this show with those of earlier stagings, which some thought more elaborate. First time audiences, on the other hand, have tended to react more favorably to the current show, perhaps in direct response to the cast’s sincerity.
The musical numbers for the show have varied from production to production. The following list represents the songs currently being performed.
"Don't Look at Me"
"Waiting for the Girl Upstairs"
"Rain on the Roof"
"The Road You Didn't Take"
"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"
The Folly of Love:
The Folly of Youth:
"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 Lucy and Jessie"
"Live, Laugh, Love"
Tickets range $45-$90 and are available through Telecharge at (212) 239 6200. The Belasco Theatre is at 111 W. 44th St. For additional information visit www.folliesonbroadway.com or www.roundabouttheatre.org.