National confirms Sondheim's Follies for 2017 season

11 Oct
Posted in: Theatre News
Author: Press Releases
Philip Quast, Imelda Staunton and Janie Dee in previous NT credits

A whole bunch of stuff was announced today by the National Theatre for its 2017 season but for #StageFaves fans there's only one headline: Sondheim classic FOLLIES will be staged at the NT for the first time with a cast led by Imelda Staunton, Philip Quast and Janie Dee...

In a press conference held today at the National Theatre, artistic director Rufus Norris announced the flagship institution’s 2017 season which will include a high-profile revival of Sondheim musical classic FOLLIES, directed by NT associate director and former Royal Court artistic director Dominic Cooke and starring Philip Quast, Janie Dee and, after her new year West End play turn in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Imelda Staunton. All three actors are National alumni; FOLLIES will be the eighth NT credit for Staunton.

Dates for FOLLIES are still to be confirmed but it will run "later in the year" in the National's largest theatre, the Olivier. The creatives include: Choreographer Bill Deamer; Music Supervisor Nicholas Skilbeck; Music Director Nigel Lilley; Lighting Designer Paule Constable; Sound Designer Paul Groothuis and Associate Choreographer Kylie Cruikshanks.

The National's previous Sondheim productions include: the London premiere of Sunday in the Park with George, which starred Philip Quast, in 1990; and a 1993 revival of Sweeney Todd led by Alun Armstrong, Julia McKenzie and Adrian Lester. And last year, the composer and lyricist took part in a special NT Platform with artistic director Rufus Norris.

FOLLIES is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by James Goldman. The story concerns a reunion in a crumbling Broadway theatre, scheduled for demolition, of the past performers of the "Weismann's Follies", a musical revue (based on the Ziegfeld Follies), that played in that theatre between the world wars. It focuses on two couples, Buddy and Sally Durant Plummer and Benjamin and Phyllis Rogers Stone, who are attending the reunion. Sally and Phyllis were showgirls in the Follies. Both couples are deeply unhappy with their marriages. Buddy, a traveling salesman, is having an affair with a girl on the road; Sally is still as much in love with Ben as she was years ago; and Ben is so self-absorbed that Phyllis feels emotionally abandoned. Several of the former showgirls perform their old numbers, sometimes accompanied by the ghosts of their former selves.

The Broadway production opened on 4 April 1971, directed by Harold Prince and Michael Bennett, and with choreography by Bennett. The musical was nominated for eleven Tony Awards and won seven. The original production, which ultimately lost its entire investment, ran for 522 performances. The piece has enjoyed a number of major revivals, and several of its songs have become standards, including "Broadway Baby", "I'm Still Here", "Too Many Mornings", "Could I Leave You?", and "Losing My Mind".