Graham Bickley, Liz Robertson, Charlotte Page, Jérôme Pradon Will Star in Sondheim's Follies in France

By Stéphane Ly-Cuong
04 Mar 2013

Jérôme Pradon
Jérôme Pradon

Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman's Follies will make its French premiere at the Opéra de Toulon March 8-10. This production will be led by French director Olivier Bénézech (Fiddler On The Roof, Grease) along with his longtime collaborators Caroline Roëlands (choreography), Valérie Jung (sets), Frédéric Olivier (costumes) and Marc-Antoine Vellutini (lights).

The musical will be performed in English, with French subtitles, by a cast of English and French performers.

Leading the cast are West End stars Olivier nominee Graham Bickley (Les Misérables, Sunset Boulevard, Ragtime) as Benjamin Stone, Liz Robertson (My Fair Lady, Song and Dance, Love Never Dies) as Phyllis and Charlotte Page (The Phantom of The Opera, A Little Night Music) as Sally.

Among the French performers in the cast are Jérôme Pradon (Buddy), Nicole Croisille (Carlotta) and Denis D'Arcangelo (Solange LaFitte). Pradon works regularly on both sides of the Channel. In Paris he has been seen in the original productions of Les Misérables, Nine and Mamma Mia! In London his credits include Miss Saigon, The Lord of The Rings and Pacific Overtures, for which he was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award in 2003. Croisille is a popular French singer whose theatre credits include Hello, Dolly! (Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris). D'Arcangelo is a Paris musical theatre regular. In a rare bit of casting, this production features a male actor in the role of Solange, the aging Parisian chanteuse.



Follies will be conducted by British-American conductor David Charles Abell. Abell will also conduct the French premiere of Sondheim and Lapine's Sunday in The Park With George at Paris' Theatre du Châtelet later this spring. That production will be directed by Lee Blakeley.

Follies concerns a group of former "Follies" stars who return to the site of their former glory, the Weismann Theatre, which is about to be demolished. Old wounds resurface as two Follies stars (Phyllis and Sally) and their husbands (Benjamin and Buddy) reassess their lives and what could have been.

Follies, with songs by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Goldman, was originally directed by Harold Prince on Broadway in 1971. Since then, it has received a legendary star-filled concert at Lincoln Center in 1985, a Roundabout revival on Broadway directed by Matthew Warchus in 2001, a City Center Encores! production in 2007 and numerous regional mountings, including a Paper Mill Playhouse engagement that featured Donna McKechnie and the late Ann Miller. The most recent Broadway revival featured Bernadette Peters leading a starry cast.

Among the show's many song titles are "Beautiful Girls," "Don't Look at Me," "Waiting for the Girls Upstairs," "Rain on the Roof," "Ah, Paris!," "Broadway Baby," "The Road You Didn't Take," "Bolero d'Amour," "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?," "Loveland," "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 Lucie and Jessie" and "Live, Laugh, Love."

For more information visit www.operadetoulon.fr.

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Stéphane Ly-Cuong is a Paris-based freelance writer and director (stephane.lycuong@gmail.com).