Great Performances: Season 14, Episode 10

Follies in Concert (14 Mar. 1986)

TV Episode  -   -  Biography | Drama | Music
8.4
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Film of the legendary 1985 concert performance presented by the New York Philharmonic of Stephen Sondheim's classic musical at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. The plot of the musical ... See full summary »

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Title: Follies in Concert (14 Mar 1986)

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Andre Gregory ...
Arthur Rubin ...
Roscoe
...
Sally Durant Plummer
...
Benjamin Stone
Jim Walton ...
Young Buddy
...
Young Ben
...
...
Phyllis Rogers Stone
...
Young Sally
Daisy Prince ...
Young Phyllis
Betty Comden ...
Emily Whitman
Adolph Green ...
Theordore Whitman
Liliane Montevecchi ...
Solange Lafitte
...
Phyllis Newman ...
Stella Deems
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Storyline

Film of the legendary 1985 concert performance presented by the New York Philharmonic of Stephen Sondheim's classic musical at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. The plot of the musical centers around a reunion of showgirls who appeared in an annual Follies extravaganza when it was staged between the wars. Sally and Phyllis are two of these former showgirls, now middle-aged. Sally is married to Buddy, and Phyllis is married to Ben. Sally is unhappy with Buddy, and still is madly in love with Ben after a brief affair they had when they were younger. Phyllis is going to divorce Ben, so all seems right. But the reason Phyllis is divorcing Ben is because he is incapable of showing real, genuine love. Will Sally truly be happy if she leaves Buddy and marries Ben? Okay, the plot isn't much, but the songs are wonderful. The show features frequent "pastiche numbers" in which other former showgirls perform numbers in the style of the period in which this Follies was staged. These numbers, ... Written by Anonymous

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14 March 1986 (USA)  »

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Trivia

The original Broadway production of "Follies" opened at the Winter Garden Theater in New York on April 4, 1971, ran for 522 performances and was nominated for the 1972 Tony Awards for the Best Musical, Book and Score. See more »

Quotes

Buddy: Sally! Oh, Sally! She says she loves another; she says a fella she prefers; she says that he's her idol; she says, ideal, she avers; she says that anybody would suit her more than I; she says that I'm a washout, she says, and I love her so much, I could die!
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Version of Follies See more »

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User Reviews

Essential for Sondheim devotees - but alas not definitive



"Follies" is Sondheim at the very peak of his songwriting prowess. It's a virtuoso turn with a series of pastiche songs relating to musical theater numbers in a variety of styles. His later works became less reliant on individual songs moving towards an operatic style, which he achieved so beautifully in both "Sweeney Todd" and "Passion". Song for song, you would be hard pressed to come up with a musical as impeccably written as "Follies".

It's a great shame that there is no existing video, or even complete recording of the original Broadway production. It's one of those magical occurrences where it call comes together. There certainly have been bigger stars than Alexis Smith, Dorothy Collins or Yvonne de Carlo and yet the performances of the 1971 production, almost inexplicably, remain distinctly definitive.

From the start "Follies in Concert" was intended by all concerned to become the definitive "Follies", with an all star cast backed by no less than the New York Philharmonic. This was in fact the motivating factor for the event being staged at all. The concert was most certainly a terrific theatrical event. The stars did not disappoint and the orchestra sounded great. But despite this, it widely failed in its quest to become the definitive version. Once again, this is not easily explained. There simply wasn't the legendary magic with which the original production was blessed. You cannot make magic in the theater by employing the very best; it either happens or it doesn't.

The documentary section of this film is of great interest. The musical theater stars such as Barbara Cook, Elaine Stritch, Phylis Newman as well as film stars Lee Remick and Carol Burnett all come across with a rarely seen naturalness. It's as if they are truly humbled by the material itself.

The performance segments are too short for my liking. It's a treat watching these professionals at work, singing such glorious music.

But when all is said and done, this is no match all for the much loved 1971 Original Broadway production.




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