About

The Production

An all star-cast of musical theatre stars brought the magic of the West End to the Royal Albert Hall on 28 April 2015 for Follies in Concert. The performances were directed by Craig Revel Horwood and saw the spectacular return of the iconic show to the London stage to coincide with composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim‘s 85th birthday year.

The Story

Time: 1971
Place:
The derelict Weismann Theatre

Notion: Retired impresario Dimitri Weismann is holding a “first and last” reunion party, thirty years after the final edition of his Weismann Follies, a spectacular annual revue in the style of those of the real-life Florenz Ziegfeld. This is taking place in order to “celebrate” the fact that his eponymous theatre is about to be demolished in order to make way for a parking lot.

The guests are invited by Weismann to “glamorise the old days, stumble through a song or two and lie about ourselves a little”. Stars from the show’s 23-year existence are introduced in song by “the inevitable Roscoe”, the show’s Master of Ceremonies, and the party that follows gives each of them an opportunity to dust off, perhaps for a final time, one of the songs that made them famous.

Amongst the guests are Sally Durant Stone and Phyllis Rogers, two chorus girls from the very last year of the show. At that time they were aged nineteen, best friends and room-mates. They were courted by two “stage door Johnnies”, Ben Stone and Buddy Plummer. Having slept with Sally, Ben goes on to marry Phyllis leaving Sally feeling betrayed and, on the rebound, she marries Buddy.

Both marriages are disastrous. Despite Ben’s highly successful and lucrative career, his marriage is sterile both emotionally and in terms of a family. Phyllis and Ben are on the verge of divorce. Buddy is a failed travelling salesman. His love for Sally is unreciprocated as she still holds a torch for Ben, so in search of solace, he takes a mistress.

Meeting again at the party after so many years causes all the old emotions to resurface. Sally even convinces herself that she can rekindle her relationship with Ben. Sniping gives way to bickering before a full-blown argument between all four of them morphs into “Loveland”, a recreation of a Follies spectacular. In this, each of the main protagonists has a song where finally, for the first time, they own up to their true feelings, about each other and importantly, about themselves.

Throughout the show they are watched over by the “ghosts” of their younger selves. In “Loveland” these have a double-duet allowing us to contrast the idealism and aspirations of their youth with the realities they have experienced.

Come the morning Ben and Phyllis, and Buddy and Sally, are left trying to pick up the pieces of their shattered relationships as best they can, and the two couples go their separate ways, probably never to meet again.

© David Lardi 2015

Cast & Creatives

The Cast

Christine Baranski – Phyllis Stone
Ruthie Henshall – Sally Plummer
and Betty Buckley – Carlotta Campion
Anita Harris – Emilie Whitman
Lorna Luft – Hattie Walker
Charlotte Page – Heidi Schiller
Russell Watson – Roscoe
Alistair Brammer – Young Ben
Jos Slovick – Young Buddy
Carol Ball – Ensemble
Lloyd Davies – Ensemble
CJ Field – Ensemble
Lucy James – Ensemble
Joshua Lovell – Ensemble
Andrew Waldron – Ensemble

Alexander Hanson – Ben Stone
Peter Polycarpou – Buddy Plummer
Anita Dobson – Stella Deems
Roy Hudd – Theodore Whitman
Alistair McGowan – Dmitri Weisman
Stefanie Powers – Solange Lafitte
Laura Pitt-Pulford – Young Phyllis
Amy Ellen Richardson – Young Sally
Sarah Bakker – Ensemble
Jessica Buckby – Ensemble
Jennifer Davison – Ensemble
Luke Fetherston – Ensemble
Jenny Legg – Ensemble
Emily Warner – Ensemble

The Company

Barry Satchwell Smith – Producer
Laura Cunningham – Producer
Elliot Davis – Co-Producer
Craig Revel Horwood – Director
Gareth Valentine – Conductor
Andrew Wright – Choreographer
Julian Stoneman Associates – General Manager
Mark Green – Associate General Manager
Nicolas Egan – Production Manager
Michael Conlon – Company Manager
Matt Watkins – Stage Manager
Monique Seeff – Show Caller

Assistant Stage Managers
Paul Puttock/Dave Armstrong
Ceejay Davies/Harriet May

Ruth McCorkindale – Costume Supervisor
Sven Lehmpfuhl – Wardrobe Master
Lauren Appleby – Hair & Make up Supervisor

Hair & Makeup Assistant
Alejandra Florez Guzman/Charli SmithCharlotte Wadley/
Christine Davies/Martha Warnes/Abbie Martin

Sound Engineer
Paul Stannering
Grieff Hewis

Radio Microphone Technician
Amanda Sonnar
Elaine Duffy

Matt Gush – Sound Stage Technician
Maurice Cambridge – Orchestral Fixer
Andrew Massey – Assistant Musical Director
Stuart McGhee – Assistant to Mr Revel Horwood
Rebecca Louis – Assistant to Mr Wright

Anne Vosser Casting – US and UK Casting
FOLLIES Brand Design – NorthtotheLeft
Darren Bell – Production Photography
Emma Holland – Emma Holland PR
Georgie Robinson – Emma Holland PR
Umbrella Rooms – Social Media
AKA – Print Advertising
Rhubarb – Hospitality Catering
Eat to the Beat – Company Catering
Joe Louis Robinson – Rehearsal Pianist

Rehearsal Rooms
The American Church and Alternative Venues

Transport – RocketVan
Crew – Pirate Crew
Construction – Illusion Design & Construct
Piano supplied and tuned by – Markson Pianos
Music Stands supplied by – White Light

Gallery
Reviews

‘When Anita Dobson brought the house down’

This semi-staged version of Sondheim’s masterpiece featured a constellation of showbiz luminaries and a surprising highlight, says Rupert Christiansen

The Telegraph

4 out of 5 stars

‘Given the scale and ambition of director Craig Revel Horwood’s production, it was a remarkably successful night’

All in all, a delightful night out that reminded us of how much we desperately need a full production of this show in London soon. A cast like this one would help, too

Musical Theatre Review

4 out of 5 stars

‘One glimpsed in Baranski a savvy anatomist of the death-in-life that the material so pointedly describes’

Christine Baranski elevates latest Sondheim gala

The Arts Desk

4 out of 5 stars

‘Christine Baranski leads Follies at Albert Hall’

An all-star cast took part in a one day only concert directed by Craig Revel Horwood

What’s on Stage

‘If you missed it, you missed a treat.’

And if they bring it back I hope they bring back Baranski and Buckley, and Henshall and Luft too if they can. But most of all they have to bring back Anita Dobson. Who knew she was such a super trooper with such nimble feet?

Attitude Magazine

5 out of 5 stars