A spokesperson for actor Treat Williams has confirmed that the actor has been offered a part in the Roundabout revival of Follies. No deal has been inked, however, and no other official casting has been announced. Production sources said that previews for the Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman musical are tentatively scheduled for Mar. 6, 2001, with an early April opening. Matthew Warchus will direct and Kathleen Marshall will choreograph the show.
Production sources are generally playing close to the vest on the casting for the show, but Playbill On-Line has learned that even though offers are out, actors for at least a "few parts" are still being sought. While deals may be imminent, finalizing a cast could simply hinge on getting the relevant parties together: For instance, it is known that Follies executive producer Frank Scandino is currently out of the country.
There is a high level of anticipation surrounding the casting of Roundabout's Follies. By way of example, the chat engine buzz included one report naming such possible cast members as Williams, Jean Smart, Dan Butler, Karen Ziemba, Judith Ivey, Betty Garrett and Polly Bergen. Later, on Aug. 24, the New York Post weighed in naming Williams, Ivey, Polly Bergen and Gregory Harrison. Though the Post's list was shorter, its report also stated that Ann Miller, who starred in a separate Paper Mill Playhouse production of Follies in 1998 would not be in the Roundabout production, due to salary issues.
Some of the rumor can be dismissed immediately: A spokesperson for Karen Ziemba said the Tony Award winning actress had been asked to audition but had not even taken that step because of scheduling issues.
In addition to casting speculation, production sources acknowledged the persistence of reports that the show will be presented at the Belasco, where James Joyce's The Dead recently played. The production of the Follies requires the staging of a decrepit theatre, and the Belasco has experienced similar dramatic transformation: The original production of the Rocky Horror Show took place there in 1975, when theatre seats were removed to create a cafe setting for that show. Moreover, Roundabout has always maintained that Follies would be presented in a Tony-eligible house next season. The Belasco fits the bill, but equally significant is the fact that Roundabout is looking for yet another venue. A company source confirmed that Follies would not be going into any other theatre (Broadway or Off-Broadway) under Roundabout's control. These include the American Airlines and Studio 54 (home of Cabaret) or the Gramercy Theatre (Off-Broadway). "There is no theatre," a spokesperson told Playbill On Line earlier this month, "they have looked at several, but no decision has been made." *
Speculation and intrigue have surrounded the development of the revival of Follies since January when, in a joint statement provided exclusively to Playbill On-Line, Follies' composer Stephen Sondheim and Bobby Goldman (widow of Follies book writer, James Goldman) stated that the upcoming New York production of the 1971 musical was not a certainty. "Although several reports have recently appeared, there are currently no specific plans for a New York production of Follies," the statement read. "We're thrilled that there is so much interest in the possibility. If a new production of Follies ever becomes a reality, we will be delighted to share the news."
Playbill On-Line first reported on Jan. 20 that Matthew Warchus was in talks to direct a possible upcoming Roundabout Theatre Company revival of Follies. The story was later picked up by NBC. In March, Roundabout officially announced the scheduling of the show as part of its current season.
Director Warchus staged the Olivier Award and Tony Award winning play Art, and the recent Broadway production of Sam Shepard's True West.
The original Hal Prince production of Stephen Sondheim's Follies in 1971 was co-directed by Prince and Michael Bennett. Bennett choreographed the show. Costumes were by Florence Klotz. In all, the show ran 522 performances and won seven Tony Awards. With book by James Goldman and sets by Boris Aronson, Follies had a pre-Broadway run at Boston's Colonial Theatre before opening on Broadway at the Winter Garden. Broadway's original Follies closed in 1972. The show employs a then-and-now look at a chorus line, portraying the aging cast members at a 1971 reunion juxtaposed with their "younger selves."
The New York Philharmonic performed a successful concert version of Follies in 1985 at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall. That performance, which was recorded for RCA and produced by Thomas Z. Shepard, featured Barbara Cook, Carol Burnett, Lee Remick, Mandy Patinkin and Elaine Stritch.