1971, New York. There’s a party on the stage of the Weismann Theatre. Tomorrow the iconic building will be demolished. Thirty years after their final performance, the Follies girls gather to have a few drinks, sing a few songs and lie about themselves. Including such classic songs as Broadway Baby, I’m Still Here and Losing My Mind, Stephen Sondheim’s legendary musical is staged for the first time at the NT. Tracie Bennett, Janie Dee and Imelda Staunton play the magnificent Follies in this dazzling new production. Featuring a cast of 37 and an orchestra of 21, the production is directed by Dominic Cooke (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom).
Director Dominic Cooke said:
“Sondheim is one of the great innovators of modern theatre. Everything he has written breaks new ground thematically and finds a fresh form to express it. His restless, questing spirit defines, for me, what it means to be an artist. I love Follies for its iconic score, brutal honesty and psychological accuracy. It depicts a profound crisis and that most American of themes: the question for authenticity in a world of illusion.
For this production we have put together a book mainly drawn from original 1971 text with some additions from later rewrites. We have brought together an incredible cast and a top notch team. I can’t wait to get started.”
Winner of Academy, Tony, Grammy and Olivier awards, Sondheim’s previous work at the NT includes A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd and Sunday in the Park with George.
The cast includes Julie Armstrong (Sandra Crane), Norma Attallah (Emily Whitman), Josephine Barstow (Heidi Schiller),Jeremy Batt (Chorus Boy) Tracie Bennett (Carlotta Campion), Di Botcher (Hattie Walker), Billy Boyle (Theodore Whitman), Janie Dee (Phyllis Rogers Stone), Anouska Eaton (Young Emily), Liz Ewing (Company), Geraldine Fitzgerald (Solange Lafitte), Peter Forbes (Buddy Plummer), Emily Goodenough (Showgirl), Bruce Graham (Roscoe), Adrian Grove (Sam Deems), Fred Haig (Young Buddy), Aimee Hodnett (Young Hattie), Dawn Hope (Stella Deems), Liz Izen (Deedee West), Alison Langer (Young Heidi), Emily Langham (Young Carlotta), Sarah-Marie Maxwell (Young Solange), Ian McLarnon (Company), Leisha Mollyneux (Young Stella), Gemma Page (Christine Donovan), Kate Parr (Young Sandra),Philip Quast (Ben Stone), Edwin Ray (Chorus Boy), Gary Raymond (Dimitri Weismann), Adam Rhys-Charles (Young Ben), Jordan Shaw (Chorus Boy), Imelda Staunton (Sally Durrant Plummer), Zizi Strallen (Young Phyllis), Barnaby Thompson (Chorus Boy), Christine Tucker (Young Deedee), Michael Vinsen (Chorus Boy) and Alex Young (Young Sally).
Follies is designed by Vicki Mortimer, with choreography by Bill Deamer, musical supervision by Nicholas Skilbeck, orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, additional orchestrations by Josh Clayton, musical director Nigel Lilley, lighting design by Paule Constable and sound designer by Paul Groothuis.
The original production of Follies premiered on Broadway in 1971, where it was nominated for eleven Tony Awards, and won seven. The show premiered in London in 1987, and has been revived around the world many times to great acclaim. This 2017 staging will be the first time the musical has been performed at the National Theatre.