BWW Reviews: Stephen Sondheim's FOLLIES Opens at the Barn Players
Follies at the Barn Players in Mission, Kan. is an amusing musical about the demise of the follies and the Weissman Theatre in New York in 1971. Stephen Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics and James Goldman wrote the book for this highly entertaining production. Follies opened on Broadway in 1971 at the Winter Garden Theatre. The 1971 production won all seven Drama Desk Award categories in which it received a nomination and won Best Musical by the New York Drama Critics' Circle.
Follies is the story of two couples who return to the crumbling Broadway theatre that is scheduled for demolition. The women met their respective husbands at the Weissman Theatre where they sang and danced as members of the Weissman Girls. As the play unfolds, the audience is introduced to Sally Duran Plummer, Buddy Plummer, Ben Stone, and Phyllis Rogers Stone. The plot, told in song, twists as the audience learns of past discretions and feelings that have never changed.
Director Eric Magnus has gathered over 30 actors, one of the largest casts to perform on the Barn Players stage. Choreographer Guy Gardner designed some of the most elaborate dance numbers produced by the Barn Players. Sharon Johnson, accompanied by the women sang, "Who's That Woman" and performed a delightful tap dance.
Tracy Fox portrays Sally Durant Plummer and has a wonderful voice that thrilled the audience with each song. The Follies marks the debut of Fox at the Barn Players. She previously performed in Fiddler on the Roof, Bye Bye Birdie, and Great American Trailer Park Musical at Kansas City theaters.
John Edmonds, who stars as Buddy Plummer, should wait for the sheriff to arrest him for theft, as he stole the show! Edmonds has a magnificent voice that captivates the audience whether performing solo or blending with other cast members. His true acting ability becomes evident as he flies off into a rage at Sally. The best number of the night was Edmonds performing "Buddy's Folly: The God-Why-Don't-You-Love-Me Blues." That song and dance number is not only wonderful to hear and watch it is very humorous.
Kipp Simmons plays Ben Stone, the ex-politician who suffers through a loveless marriage and little business future. Simmons sings with a lot of energy, which flows out, to the audience drawing them into the show. Simmons has appeared on the Barn stage in Urinetown, Company, and Bat Boy among others. He directed the Barn production of Curtains in 2012.
JC Dresslaer gives a dynamic performance as Phyllis Rogers Stone, Ben's wife. She has a tremendous voice that charmed the audience throughout the evening. She has previously appeared in Curtains, Chicago, and Sweet Charity.
Follies continues at the Barn Players through May 4, with Friday and Saturday performances at 7:30 and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Purchase tickets the Barn Players website, by calling 1-800-838-3006 or 913-432-9100 for groups of 10 or more. Photo is courtesy of the Barn Players.