Great Performances (1971– )
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Follies in Concert 

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 »


Michael Houldey


James Goldman (libretto)

On Disc

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Andre Gregory ... Dimitri Weismann
Stephen Sondheim ... Himself - Composer
Arthur Rubin Arthur Rubin ... Roscoe
Barbara Cook ... Sally Durant Plummer
George Hearn ... Benjamin Stone
Herbert Ross ... Himself - Concert Director
Jim Walton Jim Walton ... Young Buddy
Paul Gemignani Paul Gemignani ... Himself - conducting Philharmonic
Howard McGillin ... Young Ben
Mandy Patinkin ... Buddy Plummer
Lee Remick ... Phyllis Rogers Stone
Liz Callaway ... Young Sally
Daisy Prince Daisy Prince ... Young Phyllis
Betty Comden ... Emily Whitman
Adolph Green ... Theordore Whitman


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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Release Date:

14 March 1986 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



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Did You Know?


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 »


Young BenYoung Phyllis: Today was perfectly perfect, you say. Well, don't go away, 'cause if you think you liked today, you're gonna love tomorrow - mmhmm - just stick around and see - mmhmm, and if you love tomorrow, think of how it's gonna be. Tomorrow's what you're gonna have a lifetime of with me!
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User Reviews

One of the great musicals as done in a fabulous TV documentary.
7 July 2002 | by mark.waltzSee all my reviews

Stephen Sondheim's 1971 musical "Follies" was a long-running show which failed to win back its investment. It has been performed dozens of times all over the world, yet prior to this 1985 Lincoln Center Concert had never been completely recorded. While the concert does not fully tell the story of the original show, it did, for the first time, fully capture the glorious score on the recording. Broadway veterans Barbara Cook, Mandy Pantinkan, George Hearn, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Elaine Stritch were joined by film and TV stars Carol Burnett and Lee Remick (both of whom had stage experience as well) to give full life to the magic that is Sondheim.

They first take us behind the scenes in a rehearsal hall where we are introduced to the performers (also including Lilianne Montevecchi, Erie Mills, among others), then to the actual place where it will come alive in front of a sold-out audience. There are bits of the performer's real personalities coming out (particularly Elaine Stritch's) as the rehearsal moves onto opening night of the concert. Shots of Herbert Ross (the director) are interspersed with the music. The sequences of the concert are abbreviated for time, but most of the numbers (particularly Phyllis Newman's production number "Who's That Woman?") are fairly intact. No one can stop a show like Stritch can (as proved by her recent one-woman show), and she gets the largest round of applause with her entrance. Her performance of "Broadway Baby" (abbreviated here a bit, but heard completely on the concert recording and her own one-woman show CD) is equivalent in power to her earlier Sondheim showstopper "The Ladies Who Lunch" (from "Company"); If you saw her one-woman show (which I did), you get a glimpse of the delightfully eccentric and witty woman she naturally is. When she tells a joke about 90 somethings getting a divorce or makes a crack at Phyllis Newman, it simply becomes the type of theater stuff that legends are made of.

While there have been several recordings of "Follies" since this (the Paper Mill Playhouse recording includes songs cut before the 1971 production, plus some of this cast as well), this is one that will go down in legends. "Follies", as I have seen twice on stage, is a hard show to produce for several reasons. The 2001 Broadway Revival got mixed reviews for its lack of production design, but was filled with magnificent performances, while a recent Los Angeles All-Star cast could not do justice even with the many names among the cast. So with a movie version of the film not available (or likely to be done), this record of what the show is about is a more than average alternative.

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