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McKechnie and Ziemba will Star in Follies at Barrington Stage Company

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Written by Maya Cantu
 
The Barrington Stage Company in Sheffield, MA will be presenting Follies this summer from June 23rd to July 16th. The production will be directed by Julianne Boyd, and Donna McKechnie, Karen Ziemba, Jeff McCarthy, Leslie Denniston and Lara Teeter are announced headliners in the cast. Teeter is also set to choreograph.

Stephen Sondheim's groundbreaking and evocative 1971 musical takes place at a soon-to-be-demolished theatre. Two unhappily married couples--each composed of a former Follies girl and her Stagedoor Johnny--attend a showgirl reunion in which they experience "a final chance to glamorize the old days, stumble through a song or two, and lie about themselves a little."

Follies has received several recent high profile productions--among them the 1998 Paper Mill Playhouse production and the 2001 Roundabout revival.

McKechnie would presumably be reprising her role as the fragile Sally Durant Plummer--she played the part in the Paper Mill production. McKechnie won a 1976 Best Actress Tony for her Cassie in A Chorus Line, a role with which she is strongly identified (she was also married to its director-choreographer, Michael Bennett). Other Broadway credits include the original productions of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Promises, Promises, Company, the 1971 On the Town revival and most recently, 1996's State Fair. Fynsworth Alley released a CD of her one-woman show, Inside the Music, and she is currently co-writing her autobiography with Greg Lawrence.

Ziemba, like McKechnie, is an esteemed triple threat and a Tony winner--she took home the 2000 Best Featured Actress Tony for her role in Susan Stroman's dance musical Contact. Broadway credits include replacement roles in A Chorus Line, 42nd Street, Crazy for You, the Chicago revival, and she has originated roles in Steel Pier and the short-lived Never Gonna Dance. She received a Drama Desk award for her performance in the Kander and Ebb revue And the World Goes Round, and recently starred as Babe in the Encores! production of The Pajama Game.

After a somewhat troubled tryout period, Follies received mixed notices when it opened at the Winter Garden Theatre on April 4th, 1971. Something of a minor popular hit at 522 performances, it has since gained a large cult status and is acknowledged as one of the pinnacles of Sondheim's and Harold Prince's 70's collaboration. Co-directed by Prince and Michael Bennett (who was responsible for the show's choreography), the musical featured a book by James Goldman, sets by Boris Aronson, costumes by Florence Klotz and lighting by Tharon Musser. Alexis Smith, Dorothy Collins, Gene Nelson and John McMartin starred, and were supported by a host of show biz veterans that included Yvonne DeCarlo, Fifi D'Orsay and Ethel Shutta. Follies won 7 of its 10 Tony nominations, but lost the Best Musical award to Two Gentlemen of Verona.

The Barrington Stage Company, which is located within the Consolati Performing Arts Center at 491 Berkshire School Road, recently presented the world premiere of William Finn's The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The company will also stage The Importance of Being Earnest from July 21st to August 7th and Finn's Elegies: A Song Cycle from August 11th to the 28th.

More information about the Barrington Stage Company can be found at www.barringtonstageco.org, and the box office number is (413) 528-8888.




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