"Lord, Lord, Lord!" Final Broadway Performance of Follies Gets Standing Ovation in Middle of the Show

News   "Lord, Lord, Lord!" Final Broadway Performance of Follies Gets Standing Ovation in Middle of the Show
"All things beautiful must die," sings the aging soprano Heidi in Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman's Follies, the 2011-12 Kennedy Center revival of which took its last breath on the East Coast, closing after the Jan. 22 matinee performance at Broadway's Marquis Theatre.

Bernadette Peters
Bernadette Peters Photo by Joan Marcus

But, as star Bernadette Peters reminded in a curtain speech, this production — which began last spring at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, before coming to New York for a limited run — is not dead. It's moving to Los Angeles in the coming months, but (as previously reported) without Peters. Victoria Clark will take over the role of Sally Durant Plummer, the frazzled 49-year-old ex-chorine who has held a torch for an unavailable Stage Door Johnny for 30 years.

With tears streaming down the faces of many of the cast members at the curtain call, Peters stepped forward to acknowledge Kennedy Center producer Michael Kaiser, composer-lyricist Sondheim, orchestrator Jonathan Tunick and director Eric Schaeffer (who were all in attendance at the performance but remained seated and anonymous) and late librettist Goldman.

In addition to cheering Peters, Danny Burstein, Jan Maxwell and Ron Raines when they made their entrances in the performance, the industry-studded crowd offered generous applause for the entrances of all of the principals, from Colleen Fitzpatrick and Florence Lacey as DeeDee and Sandra, respectively, to David Sabin as Dimitri Weismann, the diminished impresario who is hosting the bizarre reunion of Weismann Follies girls from the past on the eve of the demolition of his theatre.

Among the extended ovations for the musical numbers was one genuine stop-the-show, leap-to-your-feet experience. Following the so-called mirror song, "Who's That Woman," which was led by a tireless and tap-happy Terri White as Stella Deems, the crowd (as they say) went wild.

The stunned ladies — Peters, Maxwell, White, Fitzpatrick, Lacey, Elaine Paige and Susan Watson — breathed in the pure oxygen of the response, gathering in a cluster for a not-quite bow. And still the ovation continued. A woman with a Southern drawl in row G, house right, exclaimed, "I think some of the people here have seen this show before, like maybe five times!"

(In fact, one veteran press agent not linked to the production admitted to Playbill.com that it was his fifth time, and a friend of his from college was seeing it for the eighth time. He claims to know of a Twitter tweeter who has seen it 35 times, including the Sunday show. Blame some of the "bravas" on them.)

Peters and Maxwell were splashed with love following the iconic songs "Losing My Mind" and "Could I Leave You?," respectively, but perhaps the most moving ovation came after octogenarian opera singer Rosalind Elias' haunting "One More Kiss," in which the onetime operetta star Heidi Schiller wanders onto the empty stage of the crumbling, haunted theatre to sing those lines about beautiful things dying.

As no other character does up to that point in the story, Heidi, the oldest woman on stage — a veteran of the World War I-era Follies — actually sees and acknowledges the ghost of her younger self, played by the rapturous Leah Horowitz.

They sing of "one more souvenir of bliss," as the lyric goes. And then the spell was broken.

(Kenneth Jones is managing editor of Playbill.com. Follow him on Twitter @PlaybillKenneth.)

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