Bernadette Peters, Jan Maxwell, Elaine Paige, Danny Burstein, Ron Raines Explore Life's Follies, Opening Sept. 12
By Andrew Gans
The Kennedy Center's critically acclaimed production of James Goldman and Stephen Sondheim's Tony Award-winning musical Follies, which played its final performance at the Washington, DC, venue June 19, officially opens at Broadway's Marquis Theatre Sept. 12 following previews that began Aug. 7.
The cast is again headed by two-time Tony Award winner Bernadette Peters as Sally Durant Plummer, four-time Tony nominee Jan Maxwell as Phyllis Rogers Stone, two-time Tony nominee Danny Burstein as Buddy Plummer, three-time Emmy Award nominee Ron Raines as Benjamin Stone and Olivier Award winner Elaine Paige as Carlotta Campion.
The production also stars Don Correia as Theodore Whitman, Christian Delcroix as Young Buddy, Grammy and Emmy Award winner Rosalind Elias as Heidi Schiller, Colleen Fitzpatrick as Dee Dee West, Lora Lee Gayer as Young Sally, Michael Hayes as Roscoe, Leah Horowitz as Young Heidi, Tony Award nominee Jayne Houdyshell as Hattie Walker, Florence Lacey as Sandra Crane, Tony Award nominee Mary Beth Peil as Solange LaFitte, David Sabin as Dimitri Weismann, Kirsten Scott as Young Phyllis, Frederick Strother as Max Deems, Nick Verina as Young Ben, Tony Award nominee Susan Watson as Emily Whitman and Terri White, who was recently married on the stage of the St. James Theatre, as Stella Deems.
Rounding out the ensemble are Lawrence Alexander, Brandon Bieber, John Carroll, Mathew deGuzman, Sara Edwards, Leslie Donna Flesner, Jenifer Foote, Suzanne Hylenski, Danielle Jordan, Amanda Kloots-Larsen, Joseph Kolinski, Brittany Marcin, Erin N. Moore, Pamela Otterson, Clifton Samuels, Kiira Schmidt, Brian Shepard, Jessica Sheridan, Amos Wolff, Ashley Yeater.
Houdyshell is one of three new principals who joined the company for the Broadway run (the others are Broadway veterans Correia and Peil). In a recent interview with Playbill.com, actress Houdyshell spoke about the first few days of rehearsal: "The first day was just really the new people ... Mary Beth Peil, Don Correia and myself, who are new to the company. They gave us one day before assembling everyone for us to just work through the number musically and for them to set us on our feet, so that was a very, in a way, nice small introduction. The following day everyone assembled [laughs], and all of a sudden there was a rehearsal room full of more bodies than I've ever seen on the first day of rehearsals. There are 41 people in this company, and then, of course, there were all the people there from management — all of the different departments, etc., and it was quite, quite overwhelming. And, I don't know how long it will take me to learn everybody's name, but I have to say, being a new person in this company, I never felt more graciously welcomed by everyone to a person, and it speaks really to me of what a terrific time everyone had in Washington. The good will and generous spirit of the people and the company, I think, is reflective of the experience they've had to date with the show, and they were all very excited to come back together, and very, very kind in welcoming Don and Mary Beth and I."
Signature Theatre artistic director Eric Schaeffer directs the classic musical with choreography by Warren Carlyle (Finian's Rainbow). James Moore serves as music director and conducts the 28-piece orchestra.
Peil recently spoke with Playbill.com about director Schaeffer, explaining, "The great thing about Eric is that he casts really well. He has a beautiful vision of the overall sensibility of what the piece is about and what he wants it to be about, and then he sort of lets you do your work. He's not one of those guys who puts his fingerprints all over the thing. It's a very tricky line between giving a note at the right time and not giving it too soon. You know, waiting until the actor is ready to get a note. He lets us all find our way, each in our own way, and this is a huge company, and everyone works differently. Everybody attacks their role, or their route to finding their role, differently, and I think he's really good at that — at letting people find their own way and knowing when to give the note, and how to, very gently, guide people into his vision without trying to push you in there before you're ready."
The production also features scenic design by Derek McLane, costume design by Gregg Barnes, lighting design by Natasha Katz and sound design by Kai Harada. The musical utilizes Jonathan Tunick's original orchestrations. Read Playbill.com's earlier feature about costume designer Barnes' approach to the world of Follies, and view a gallery of his designs.
PS Classics, the label dedicated to the heritage of Broadway and American popular song, will record the new cast album of the revival of the Stephen Sondheim-James Goldman show Oct. 3-4 for a late November release.
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.
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."
Follies is produced on Broadway by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (David M. Rubenstein, Chairman; Michael M. Kaiser, President; Max Woodward, Vice President).
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