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National Theatre Live: Follies (2017)

The former Weismann's Follies girls return to their old theatre one last time. At the core of the story are two married couples on the brink of collapse. As the night goes on, egos are unleashed, lies are exposed, and secrets are revealed.

Director:

Tim Van Someren

Writer:

James Goldman (book)
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Cast

Credited cast:
Tracie Bennett Tracie Bennett ... Carlotta Campion
Imelda Staunton ... Sally Durant Plummer
Gary Raymond ... Dimitri Weismann
Di Botcher ... Hattie Walker
Philip Quast ... Benjamin Stone
Zizi Strallen ... Young Phyllis
Janie Dee Janie Dee ... Phyllis Rogers Stone
Peter Forbes Peter Forbes ... Buddy Plummer
Geraldine Fitzgerald Geraldine Fitzgerald ... Solange LaFitte
Gemma Page ... Sandra Crane
Adrian Grove Adrian Grove ... Sam Deems
Dawn Hope Dawn Hope ... Stella Deems
Billy Boyle Billy Boyle ... Theodore Whitman
Norma Atallah Norma Atallah ... Emily Whitman
Alex Young Alex Young ... Young Sally
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Storyline

The former Weismann's Follies girls return to their old theatre one last time. At the core of the story are two married couples on the brink of collapse. As the night goes on, egos are unleashed, lies are exposed, and secrets are revealed.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Musical

Certificate:

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Details

Official Sites:

Official Site

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 November 2017 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

National Theatre Live See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This production of Follies is performed as a one-act performance, as it was done in the original Broadway production in 1971 and in accordance with Sondheim's intention for the piece to be performed. The original West End production (staged in 1972) and both Broadway revivals (staged in 2001 and 2011) included an intermission after "Too Many Mornings". See more »

Connections

Featured in 60 Minutes: Interview with Stephen Sondheim (1988) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Sour cocktail with a great taste
17 November 2017 | by davidgeeSee all my reviews

This was the latest West End show to come to a movie theater near me last night. I saw it in London in 1987 – twice – with Dolores Gray and then Eartha Kitt singing the show's 'anthem' "I'm Still Here". This new production goes back to Stephen Sondheim's original vision: a single extended act and a character development study (wow – in a musical?) rather than a plot-driven drama.

A crumbling brick wall on a revolving stage creates the minimalist set, with a fire escape replacing the grand staircase down which the chorus girls would have paraded in the heyday of the Ziegfeld-style Follies decades earlier. At this 1970s reunion (the theatre is soon to be torn down) the focus is on two couples whose marriages have gone very stale: Sally and Buddy and Phyllis and Ben. Sally was in love with Ben (still is) but she married Buddy, who is a serial philanderer, as is Ben and also Phyllis. These four interact with their younger selves in crisp scenes and songs. If this show were a cocktail – and it very much is - it could only be a whisky sour.

FOLLIES makes a kind of 'companion piece' to Sondheim's earlier show COMPANY, which took an equally cynical view of several marriages from the viewpoint of a 'confirmed bachelor' (the character wasn't gay, although that was how gay men used to be referred to!). Some of the songs and production numbers in FOLLIES are re-runs of pastiche vaudeville numbers with the players shadowed by and even dancing with their younger selves .

But it's the bitterest lyrics – 'torch songs' - that stand out, show-casing failed relationships and the disappointments life dishes out. 'Could I Leave You?' is sung by Phyllis (Janie Dee who kept reminding me of Sigourney Weaver). 'Losing My Mind' is Sally's big number – Imelda Staunton came into her own with this, though I felt she was underplaying the character in the first half of the show.

The absolute show-stopper (equivalent to 'The Ladies Who Lunch' in COMANY) is 'I'm Still Here' sung by retired stage siren Carlotta (Tracie Bennett). The best ever performance of the song, for me, was Carol Burnett's in a concert version of FOLLIES from the Lincoln Center in 1985. Shirley MacLaine sang it memorably in POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE, playing a character meant to be Debbie Reynolds. In this new production Tracie Bennett comes close to eclipsing everybody else. Ms Bennett memorably recreated Judy Garland on stage some years ago – a pity she won't be in the next year's new bio-pic (Renee Zellweger). Much as Elaine Stritch lit up the stage with 'Ladies Who Lunch' in the 1972 COMPANY, Tracie Bennett stole the show for me last night.

And what a show this is! Catch a repeat when they show an 'Encore' at your local multiplex.


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