Confirming a variety of earlier reports but stopping just short of saying the ink on the contract is dry, actor Treat Williams says he is definitely playing Buddy in the Roundabout revival of Follies. Final word on the cast is being held until Roundabout casts the role of Phyllis, the actor told Playbill On-Line.
"I first saw the show when I was a freshman in college," Williams said, "and I've been singing those songs ever since." Abiding by the company's strategy of holding any announcement on the cast until all of the core four players are in place, Williams would say only that he had not heard whether "Phyllis" had been cast.
Even so, Williams was clearly enthused about doing the Sondheim the project. "I would have played one of the chorus girls...providing they had the right costume," Williams said.
As reported earlier, 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.
There is a high level of anticipation surrounding the casting of Roundabout's Follies. 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 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. 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.