follies, steven sondheim,

National Theatre Live’s Follies is not to be missed

There is simply no one like Stephen Sondheim. The living legend has arguably had the greatest singular impact on the genre of musical theatre. He’s responsible for some of the most beautiful and complex musicals in existence including Company, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, and Into the Woods. (He also wrote lyrics to Gypsy and West Side Story).

One of his most brilliant and rich works is Follies, originally produced on Broadway in 1971. Follies tells the story of a theatre that once housed a world famous Vaudeville musical revue, now slated for demolition. In an attempt to revisit the past and honour the incredible alumni of the Follies, the owner, Mr. Weismann, holds a reunion prior to the theatre being torn to the ground. Two former Folly couples, Sally and Buddy, and Phyllis and Ben, reunite for the first time in eons and rehash old romances, past regrets and tackle head-on their current states of ennui, disappointment and anger.

Follies has been produced all over the world and revived several times on Broadway. The UK hasn’t seen a full West End revival of the production since its premiere in London over 30 years ago. The National Theatre decided to mount a much-overdue production and it opened in early September 2017.

Recently I caught a matinee of the show and this revival is about as first rate a production as you’ll ever see. Luckily for Canadians unable to catch the National Theatre revival in-person, Cineplex screens Follies November 16th in select theatre across Canada.

Part dream, part nightmare, Follies central couples explore what might have been had they allowed their lives to take a different path, as younger versions of themselves haunt the stage. The show explores the painful truths of aging and the sadness of missed opportunities. Sondheim brilliantly creates songs for each character in various Vaudeville-inspired numbers. You might be familiar with standards such as: "Broadway Baby", "I’m Still Here" and "Losing My Mind", which have all permeated pop culture. Sondheim’s lyrics are nuanced, intricate and consummate. The number "Could I Leave You?" is Sondheim at his best.

With a cast of 37, a 21-piece orchestra and Sondheim’s genius, this Follies is not to be missed. Click here for more details!

Michael Yerxa - is a Toronto based Television and Documentary Producer and a lifelong musical theatre enthusiast.