The original Broadway production of Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s Follies celebrates its 50th anniversary after opening at the Winter Garden Theatre April 4, 1971. The musical, co-directed and produced by frequent Sondheim collaborator Harold Prince, played 12 previews and 522 performances before closing July 1, 1972. The production earned 11 Tony Award nominations, winning seven including Best Original Score for Sondheim.
A look at the decay of American show business and the dangers of living in the past, Follies tells the story of the Weismann Follies showgirls who reunite before their old theatre is torn down, singing and dancing their old numbers and confronting past regrets and misplaced hopes.
The original Broadway production starred Dorothy Collins as Sally Durant Plummer, John McMartin as Benjamin Stone, Gene Nelson as Buddy Plummer, Alexis Smith as Phyllis Rogers Stone, Yvonne De Carlo as Carlotta Campion, Michael Bartlett as Roscoe, Helon Blount as Dee Dee West, Ethel Barrymore Colt as Chrine Crane, Fifi D’Orsay as Solange LaFitte, Victor Griffin as Vincent, Justine Johnston as Heidi Schiller, Fred Kelly as Willy Wheeler, Dick Latessa as Major-Domo, Sonja Levkova as Sandra Donaovan, John J. Martin as Max Deems, Mary McCarty as Stella Deems, Arnold Moss as Dimitri Weismann, Ethel Shutta as Hattie Walker, Sheila Smith as Meredith Lane, Marcie Stringer as Emily Whitman, Jayne Turner as Vanessa, Peter Walker as Chet Richards, and Charles Welch as Theodore Whitman. Rounding out the company were Rory Barry, Steven Boockvor, Suzanne Briggs, Trudy Carson, Kathie Dalton, Graciela Daniele, Harvey Evans, John Grigas, Mary Jane Houdina, Victoria Mallory, Ursula Maschmeyer, Michael Misita, Joseph Nelson, Ralph Nelson, Rita O’Connor, Julie Pars, Linda Perkins, Kurt Peterson, Suzanne Rogers, Marti Rolph, Virginia Sandifur, Margot Travers, Kenneth Urmston, and Donald Weissmuller.
Co-directed and choreographed by Michael Bennett, Follies featured scenic design by Boris Aronson, costume design by Florence Klotz, lighting design by Tharon Musser, and sound design by Jack Mann with stage management by Fritz Holt, George Martin, and John Grigas.
Since its Broadway debut, the musical has returned to Broadway two times—at the Belasco Theatre in 2001 and at the Marquis Theatre in 2011. An acclaimed engagement played London's National Theatre in 2017.