By Robert Simonson
14 Jul 2001
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—the first ever since the landmark show debuted in 1971—closes July 14. 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).
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."
Director Matthew Warchus' bold staging of Sondheim's much-admired classic divided audiences and critics. Warchus chose to give the already dark-hued musical a somber character, epitomized by Mark Thompson's brick-wall-and-lightbulb set design and the purposefully distressed appearance of the Belasco Theatre auditorium. Furthermore, his approach appeared to accentuate the James Goldman's book over Sondheim's renowned score. Accordingly, his four leads—Blythe Danner (Phyllis Rogers Stone), Gregory Harrison (Ben Stone), Judith Ivey (Sally Durant Plummer) and Treat Williams (Buddy Plummer)—were widely acknowledged to be "actors who can sing" as opposed to "singers who can act."
The Follies supporting cast featured a host of stage veterans, including 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) and Louis Zorich (Dimitri Weisman), as well as 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.
Danner and Bergen were the only performers to be nominated for Tony Awards. Danner lost Best Actress to Christine Ebersole, and Bergen (who sang a severely truncated "I'm Still Here" on the Tony broadcast) was bested by The Producers' Cady Huffman. 42nd Street won Best Revival of a Musical.
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.
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.
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.
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.