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 Post subject: Follies
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2002 2:03 am 
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Image <P>PRESS RELEASE<P><B>Follies</B><P><BR>Henry Goodman will return to the London stage to star as ‘Buddy’ in the fully-staged legendary Broadway musical “FOLLIES”, which will open at the Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday 6 August for a strictly limited four-week season. Louise Gold will star as ‘Phyllis’, David Durham as ‘Ben’, Kathryn Evans as ‘Sally’ and Diane Langton as ‘Carlotta’.<P>This is a brand new production of “FOLLIES”, which has music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Goldman. Directed by Paul Kerryson and designed by Paul Farnsworth, “FOLLIES” will have musical direction by Julian Kelly, choreography by David Needham and lighting design by Jenny Cane. There will be previews on 3 and 5 August and the show will run until 31 August.<P>The show, which was originally produced on Broadway by Harold Prince in 1971, features the classic songs “Broadway Baby”, “I’m Still Here” and “Losing My Mind”. <P>“FOLLIES” will play Mondays to Saturdays at 7.30pm, with Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm. The press night will be on Tuesday 6 August at 7.00pm. There will be no performance at 2.30pm on Thursday 8 August or at 7.30pm on Monday 26 August. Ticket prices range from £12.50 to £35.00, with preview tickets half-price, and are available from the Royal Festival Hall Box Office on 020 7960 4242 or online at <A HREF="http://www.rfh.org.uk" TARGET=_blank>www.rfh.org.uk</A> <P>Here is the link to the <A HREF="http://www.criticaldance.com/ubb/Forum13/HTML/000771.html" TARGET=_blank><B>full Press release</B></A><P>And here is the link to the <A HREF="http://www.rfh.org.uk/follies/" TARGET=_blank><B>special website</B></A> for the show with masses of information.<P><BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Follies
PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2002 3:20 am 
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<B>From fiasco to Follies</B><BR>by Nick Curtis for The Evening Standard<P><BR>Henry Goodman exhibits the same fierce, driven energy in person that he does on stage. Here and there, across a cafe table at the Festival Hall, you get flashes of his showboating lawyer Billy Flynn from the musical Chicago, his manic spin doctor from Feelgood, even his magnificent, brooding Shylock. Once in a while, there's even a bit of Noo Yawk vaudeville patter, which is surprising. <P>For Henry Goodman, the Jewish boy from the East End, was famously chosen to replace Nathan Lane as Max Bialystock in The Producers on Broadway earlier this year, and was even more famously fired after only a month. The director, Susan Stroman, said she was "unhappy with the lack of progress Henry was making in the role", and Variety hinted that he simply wasn't funny enough. <P><A HREF="http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/dynamic/hottx/theatre/review.html?in_review_id=649848&in_review_text_id=620911" TARGET=_blank><B>click for more</B></A>


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 Post subject: Re: Follies
PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2002 10:15 pm 
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Interview with the director Paul Kerryson in the Telegraph.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Mingling past and present in a haze of memories, remorse and regret, Stephen Sondheim's Follies has been called "the first Proustian musical". Set in a crumbling abandoned theatre, it explores the midlife reunion of two chorus girls from a famous vaudeville, closely modelled on the Ziegfeld Follies, which was New York's equivalent of Les Folies Bergère and flourished in the years surrounding the First World War. The two women married and made their mistakes; as they meet again, they reflect on the paths they might have taken and settle a few old scores.<P><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=%2Farts%2F2002%2F07%2F30%2Fbtpaul30.xml" TARGET=_blank><B> MORE </B> </A>


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 Post subject: Re: Follies
PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2002 11:30 pm 
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Review from The Independent.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>You could pitch the proverbial row of pink tents along the full length of Old Compton Street and not end up with anything half as camp as Stephen Sondheim's Follies.<P>Mid-1970s and a gang of superannuated, 50-something ex-chorines are meeting up for a first and last reunion before their Broadway Theatre is demolished to make way for a parking lot. Well, that's what happens in a nation that puts cars before cabaret.<P><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/theatre/reviews/story.jsp?story=322246" TARGET=_blank> <B> MORE </B> </A>


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 Post subject: Re: Follies
PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2002 9:20 am 
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Venue cramps the style of a flawed masterpiece
Charles Spencer reviews Follies at the Festival Hall

Stephen Sondheim's Follies (1971) is widely regarded as a masterpiece among musicals. There is only one problem - it has never enjoyed a copper-bottomed, smash-hit success in the theatre.

The producer Raymond Gubbay and director Paul Kerryson are the latest to take on this brilliant but perplexing piece, and have made their first mistake by staging it in the Festival Hall.

A crucial aspect of Follies, which concerns the reunion of a group of chorus girls, now middle-aged and elderly, who starred in a musical revue between the wars, is that it takes place in a shabby, abandoned theatre on the brink of demolition. Designer Paul Farnsworth has done his best to rough the place up with a set featuring scaffolfing, ladders, dusty chandeliers and a false proscenium arch, but the clean, soulless environment of the Festival Hall is entirely wrong for the piece.

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Follies
by Nicholas de Jongh for The Evening Standard

There's a fearful sense of nostalgia about this legendary, 30-year-old Broadway musical by Stephen Sondheim. And time has done nothing to diminish its potency. Follies plays the magic trick of allowing you to witness the pathos of unhappy people whose romantic past is being replayed before their very eyes, as they stand side by side with their younger selves.

What could be more compelling than to see your younger self make the decisive mistakes that have led you to your quarrelsome marital present? What worse than to meet again, at the very same time, the early lover you never kept? And since the location of this reunion is a soon-to-be demolished Broadway theatre, where you met this lover, the musical acquires an air of ghostliness.

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Follies
by Ian Johns for The Times
(2* out of 5)

BY THEIR own admission, Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s much-revised musical Follies has gone from being “rueful and Chekhovian” to “bleak and corrosive” and “brighter, more optimistic”. This may suggest perfectionism, but Paul Kerryson’s revival suggests there’s still something not quite right about this 30-year-old musical.
The setting is a soon-to-be-demolished New York theatre, one-time home of the Weissman Follies, where a reunion of chorus girls turns into an autopsy of what age has done to them. This is expressed in songs drawn from generations of showbiz, from brash vaudeville to poignant torch song, Sondheim knocks the American Dream of marrying your sweetheart, making money and being happy ever after.

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<small>[ 08-09-2002, 01:47: Message edited by: Joanne ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Follies
PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2002 10:27 pm 
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Review from The Sunday times (please scroll down)

Quote:
This is still one of the greatest American musicals. James Goldman’s book is its weak point: the plot virtually expires in the second half. As for Stephen Sondheim’s music and lyrics, they confirm that he is among the greatest creators of musical theatre, and the finest songwriter since Cole Porter.
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And The Observer.

Quote:
When I first saw Stephen Sondheim's Broadway musical Follies in 1987, I couldn't get the hang of its astringent sentiment. I must have been too young for it (enjoyment cannot be guaranteed for the under-thirties). But now I am a convert. Paul Kerryson's fantastic production made me feel as I used to as a child at the theatre: before the show had ended, I was plotting to see it again.

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<small>[ 08-11-2002, 00:34: Message edited by: Joanne ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Follies
PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2002 10:38 am 
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FOLLIES – ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL – WEDNESDAY 7TH AUGUST 2002

Follies has received mixed reviews in the national press and I suppose like the majority of Sondheim’s shows it is a production you will either have a soft spot for or not. I have to say it is not my favourite show but there is something about it that moves and draws me in to its’ sometimes dark and bleak world but also a world that triumphs a golden age.

The much talked about set is stunning. The scaffolding, plastic sheeting and cobwebs truly transform the stage and part of the auditorium and the critic that said the RFH is too pristine to be believable as a derelict theatre really needs to get an imagination and perhaps watch the stage area, which I feel is always the best area to concentrate on when watching a performance. We all know the problems of staging a full scale production at RFH after watching ballets there, but Paul Farnsworth has designed a set that needs slight manoeuvering to transform parts into the pizzazz needed for the dream sequences and although we do not have oodles of space for the bigger numbers both Paul Kerryson (Director) and David Needham (Choreographer) have been innovative in spacing of the choreography to ensure that the stage never looked cramped.

Juxtaposed against the set are some fabulous costumes. The Follies girls shimmered in crystal and silver and in particular the mirrored outfits used for the tap number where the soubrettes danced opposite their younger alter egos, was particularly effective. The glamour of the costumes up against the bleakness of the set helped to emphasis the characters own veneers of happiness whilst really there is inner turmoil of lives gone by and wasted. The constant appearance of the shapely, sparkling, young follies girls served as a constant reminder of what might have been for the lead characters.

This is a production that works on levels, both of emotion and subconscious and the dance element of the show really helped to emphasis this. The Follies girls emphasized this in ways already discussed, presenting the past as a perfect ideal but also the inclusion of Margi – Buddy’s lover, as a dancer in his imagination was extremely poignant.

In this production of a problematic show production values certainly worked together to produce a canvas which made the whole show clear to understand and also showed a view of a common aim and vision within all production departments.


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 Post subject: Re: Follies
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2002 11:03 pm 
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Review from the FT.

Quote:
The opening of Paul Kerryson's production of Follies is quite magical. Sondheim's 30-year-old musical is set in a condemned Broadway theatre, where ageing dancers and their spouses meet for a farewell party before the building is bulldozed to make way for a car park. As the guests struggle with their feelings of nostalgia and regret, they are watched over by the ghosts of their younger selves: the showgirls and their beaux. Kerryson's production opens with the chorus of ghostly Follies girls tiptoeing down the stairs, their wonderful ethereal headdresses of feathers and crystal shimmering in the pale light. It is a captivating sight that fills the cavernous Royal Festival Hall stage. And indeed, whenever the show calls for big numbers or bold use of the stage, the production soars. With the intimate scenes telling the personal stories of four partygoers, however, the staging struggles and often falls flat. It's a show of stops and starts.

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 Post subject: Re: Follies
PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2002 12:26 am 
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Review in the Independent.

Quote:
That said, there is something eerie as well as utilitarian about Paul Farnsworth's set with its builders' scaffolding and its plastic sheeting printed with images of a gilded playhouse from a bygone era. The spectral showgirls from the past are also bewitching in their plumes and gems as they parade in slow motion among their milling older selves and their future roving husbands.

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 Post subject: Re: Follies
PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2002 2:25 am 
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Interview with David Needham - Choreographer of Follies.

David Needham is a choreographer who has enjoyed a long and extensive career in both the classical sphere and musical theatre. After training at Arts Educational Schools, London, David went on to become a soloist with Scapino Ballet and a principal for Northern Ballet. He then moved into musicals beginning with the part of the Tango Dancer in the UK touring production of Evita.

I met David the day after the Press Night of Follies in the auditorium of the Royal Festival Hall. After he explained how the very dramatic and imposing set worked we talked about the challenges of staging a full scale musical in a venue which is mainly used to concert productions. “It was like choreographing in a corridor” David said indicating to the very wide but narrow stage area in front of the main set on stage and he explained about the many challenges the dancers had with this show from just the basics of walking down flights of stairs elegantly in heels to the lack of wing space, meaning that the dancers had to put on crinolines just seconds before making an entrance on stage.

David Needham believes very much that style is of the essence in musical theatre and particularly in a musical like Follies. “If you’re wearing a ¼ million in quartz crystals you’ve got to look like a million dollars” and he explained that a chunk of rehearsal time was spent just teaching the girls to walk in the style required by a Weisman Follies girl.

Dance in any musical is a very important part and in Follies with the central characters having once been Follies girls the obvious references to dance are there. However with a Sondheim show the lyrics are also of great importance, so the dance element had two purposes to fulfill, presenting a vision of musical theatre and to forward the narrative. I asked David which he found most challenging. “What’s hard is that you can’t over choreograph it. I’ve choreographed as much as I dare because with Sondheim it’s the lyrics. So I’ve gone for style in the show”. This is apparent from the moment the girls walk on stage at the beginning of the show, and the dancing, whilst well rehearsed and slick in it’s own right, never intruded in the numbers.

One section where a strong musical theatre style had to jostle with exploration of inner character feeling was the Loveland section at the end of the show – a musical theatre pastiche which highlights the inner turmoil of the four main characters in their dysfunctional relationships. In particular there was a brilliant number, The Folly of Youth, where the four characters as their younger selves become intertwined in two duets showing the uncertainty of who should be with who. Here, as Needham said, “The choreography has to take that on, it’s not about steps it’s about conveying what Soindheim wrote.” But sometimes being so tied to the words must have added constraints especially when as David said the show “had great music” which initially sparked lavish choreography ideas, “In a way you do have your hands tied. I am doing West Side Story at Christmas and that is a dance show. In this I feel I have as much choreography in as I dare without spoiling anything, because as someone in the audience said, at least I understood the numbers”. I suggested that in order to get the choreographic balance right that a clear understanding and guidance from the director of his ideas is essential. “Paul (Kerryson – the director) guided me well. He said “You can be clever with how you set the dancers and I’m sure you’ve got beautiful arms and wonderful steps but always remember, it’s like choreographing an opera”.

With someone as knowledgeable about Sondheim as the director Paul Kerryson on board and with such talented people as Julian Kelly as MD and Paul Farnsworth as designer David was quick to state that the job was made a lot easier and throughout the interview I sensed the feeling of a very happy team.

This I think was borne out by the discussions we had about their relatively short rehearsal period of two weeks. “Two things happen with a musical – you rehearse to perfection in the studio then you come to the band call and you think “Oh my god – the arrangements”, and then you come to the set and I have to say I was knocked out by the orchestra and everyone was amazed by the sets, so there was an excitement. Every new hurdle we went over was exciting”. I asked David how he approached choreographing a new show and he told me that before rehearsals start he produces a bible, which contains all the show’s choreography - “From curtain up to finale and curtain calls. I don’t wing anything. What I do is listen to the music and I count every beat. The next thing I do is geography – I like patterns and journeys, and the last thing I do is the steps.” With choruses becoming smaller and smaller in musicals, use of patterning is essential to provide interest in musical theatre choreography and this is certainly a trait in David Needham’s work that I picked up on when watching Follies.

For David having the music and a clear idea of the final arrangements and orchestrations for a show is important – “I like my choreography to fit like a glove”. We talked about how one of David’s contemporaries, Susan Stroman, whose work he admires greatly, also uses the music to excellent effect. “If there’s a triangle she’ll put in a head” and you can tell by David’s passion for style that details like this are important.

After mentioning Stroman I asked David about other influences on his work as a choreographer. As well as Stroman, the masters like Jerome Robbins, Agnes De Mille and Bob Fosse also feature. With so many masters to follow I suggested that it must be hard for choreographers today, with so many revivals, to keep them looking fresh. As David stated choreographers have to have their “own vocabulary of steps.” “Choreographers have a hard job, the director has a script, the MD has a score which they can hot up but the choreographer has a blank page and it is up to you to put a style in a show and it’s either hit or miss. You either don’t do it as well as the masters did before or you do it better.” We discussed the fact that some choreography, like Robbins’ for West Side Story still looks as fresh as ever but as David said, “All directors and choreographers today have a job to keep those musicals fresh and from what I have seen they have done a good job.” He went on to say that a choreographer’s job today is, “to follow in the footsteps of the masters but do it in our own way, not reproducing carbon copies of what they did – that’s not choreography that’s just restaging”.

Another factor that must influence choreography for musicals today is the dancers on offer for this type of work, as David stated, “Today’s dancers are different – they look different”. I suggested that this was perhaps because of the difference in training of today’s dancers – they have a broader training which goes more into contemporary styles of jazz, street etc. We discussed that although versatility was good certain elements always need to be present. “You cannot get away from a good classical training. Always be a dancer – not just a jazz dancer or a video dancer, be a dancer that can do anything and that comes from getting into classical training everyday.”

We also came back to the issue of “style” and being able to pick up on different styles. David feels that many of the younger dancers coming through are very good at picking up on the jazz style but that some of the elegance of dance in musicals in perhaps being lost. I asked David therefore, how he saw musical theatre developing in this country? “I sometimes wonder where it is all going. Are we going to be influenced by a lot of contemporary choreographers?” I mentioned Matthew Bourne’s departures into musical theatre as an example. “He’s very clever – look at AMP, it’s stunning choreography. He has a very good brain.” I got the feeling that someone like Bourne is the exception rather than the rule and that for someone with purely a contemporary background to come in to choreograph musicals would be very hard. “What worries me sometimes is that we are getting a lot of contemporary people in who have never done musicals. Suddenly they’re choreographing musicals. But then to me when somebody like Susan Stroman comes in who has been in musicals I see the difference”. Although David had a very classical background he sees the importance of his performance experience in musicals as paramount – “I went into musicals to learn my craft”, he obviously sees this as the way to do it.

As well as his admiration for Stroman he is clearly very respectful of the American way of producing musicals. Throughout his performance career he watched the US assistants on shows to see how they put things together and found that “It’s not about steps it’s about the creation of the number.” As we have seen from his intricate preparation, the show as a whole and how dance fits into that is far more important than indivdual numbers for David Needham.

What also amazes Needham about the US shows is the energy and also the sheer amount of dancers they have on stage. I very much got the impression from the interview that we are perhaps not nurturing the talent we have in this country in the same way as the US, and although we have very fine teachers in this country too, the whole genre of musical theatre is perhaps not taken as seriously here. David Needham obviously does take musical theatre seriously, his training started there and his career has gone full circle to take him back there. The obvious care and passion he puts into his work oozed from him as we talked. The production of Follies currently on at the Royal Festival Hall could perhaps be a perfect vehicle for this passion. Although not everyone’s cup of tea, amongst other things Follies does generate a love for an age of musical theatre that has influenced generations of practitioners, including Sondheim and Needham himself.

<small>[ 08-22-2002, 06:51: Message edited by: Joanne ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Follies
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2002 7:12 am 
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Follies
By By John Martland for The Stage

Director Paul Kerryson has gone back to James Goldman's original book for this limited run of the musical which contains Stephen Sondheim's most accessible score. Its collection of pastiche and character numbers enhance and punctuate the bleak story of two former showgirls, Sally and Phyllis (Kathryn Evans and Louise Gold), who bring their husbands, Ben and Buddy (David Durham and Henry Goodman) – along with their mutual emotional problems – to a nostalgic reunion party at a former follies theatre which is about to be demolished.

The large Festival Hall stage is far from the perfect space for this intimate story and sure enough the dialogue scenes often seemed rather tired and flat. However, set and costume designer Paul Farnsworth could hardly have done more to brighten things up – his impressive set was awash with scaffolding, plastic sheeting and other demolition paraphernalia – while his sequined costumes and huge white headdresses for the young showgirls were wonderful to behold.

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<small>[ 08-23-2002, 09:12: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Follies
PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2002 9:55 pm 
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Thanks Joanne - enjoyed the interview. Did you come out of "Follies" singing and humming the tunes. I'm sorry I missed it.


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 Post subject: Re: Follies
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2002 11:36 am 
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Well it's stange I didn't come out dancing down the street like I normally would with a musical but the tunes have stuck with me and come into my head a lot. I did feel quite moved by the show I think there area experiences in all the characters that we can recognise in ourselves and the resillience of all the strong female characters is quite boosting.


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