Follies 1987 London Production (and general Follies thread =] )

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Can someone help explain to me exactly what changes were made and why they were made? I have the Papermill recording and love both the songs "Ah, But Underneath" and "Lucy and Jessie". Why the change?
Updated On: 10/30/08 at 10:52 PM
Phyllis Rogers Stone
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re: Follies 1987 London Production#2
Posted: 10/23/08 at 10:59pm
I didn't see it, but I heard the entire show.

In no order or importance (or degree of horror)-

The main theme of the Prologue is One More Kiss.

The book was almost completely rewritten.

Ah, But Underneath is a good song for a Phyllis who can't dance well. Diana Rigg wasn't even in Who's That Woman.

The tone is lighter. The Main Four interact with the Young Four more.

It's a total travesty.

I'll post more if I remember anything else.
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re: Follies 1987 London Production#2
Posted: 10/23/08 at 11:07pm
Now, why did I know that Phyllis would answer this post? lol

You really must get the "Follies in Concert" recording and a good Sondheim book--I know the answer is available, but I can't remember too much right now myself!
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re: Follies 1987 London Production#3
Posted: 10/23/08 at 11:55pm
I'd say the main "What the F were they thinking?!?" is that they cut "The Road You Didn't Take"
"A coherent existance after so many years of muddle" - Desiree' Armfelt, A Little Night Music "Life keeps happening everyday, Say Yes" - 70, Girls, 70 "Life is what you do while you're waiting to die" - Zorba
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re: Follies 1987 London Production#4
Posted: 10/24/08 at 12:16am
-The bizarre Country House was added in, I guess to make up for The Road You Didn't Take.

-Loveland was different too, it's now about taking the Highway of Happiness or something kooky.

-Live, Laugh, Love was replaced with Make The Most of Your Music, make of that what you will.
EDIT: Just relistened to this song, it could be a good song but the lyrics are all music-based which makes no sense for Ben's character, but it's orchestrated beautifully.

Also, the Young Four's Loveland songs pop up throughout the whole Loveland sequence instead of the beginning.

The two best things about the production are really Julia McKenzie as Sally, her Losing My Mind is different but it's an acquired taste. Also, I think the London production can boast having the only LIKABLE Solange, in the hysterical Maria Charles.
Tick Tock
Updated On: 10/24/08 at 12:16 AM
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re: Follies 1987 London Production#5
Posted: 10/24/08 at 1:42am
When I saw the show, I got the impression Cameron Mackintosh had told them to beef up Ben's character and make him more likeable at the expense of Phyllis's character. Ah, But Underneath's "Sometimes when the wrapping falls there's nothing underneath at all" seemed to me to send a more negative message than the duality of The Ballad of Lucy and Jessie. I'd been so excited about finally getting to see a production of Follies and I left so disappointed in what I got. Bought the cast album, but I can't remember the last time I listened to it.
Updated On: 10/24/08 at 01:42 AM
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re: Follies 1987 London Production#6
Posted: 10/24/08 at 2:16am
I agree with BNN on Julia McKenzie being the best thing this production has to offer, but I think her moment of brilliance, which no one has surpassed (IMO), is her interpretation of "In Buddy's Eyes." But, how can you not like Fifi D'Orsay?
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re: Follies 1987 London Production#7
Posted: 10/24/08 at 7:07am
I finally saw a production of this in Boston and while the acting and dancing were top notch, the book left me cold. I liked some of the score, and some was simply meh. Now I am intrigued about the changes in the London production. Though from posting is the 1987 London cast recording worth a listen? I see it is only highlights...
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re: Follies 1987 London Production#8
Posted: 10/24/08 at 9:07am
I saw the London FOLLIES (with Millicent Martin replacing Rigg and Eartha Kitt in for Dolores Grey) and a very find regional production using the original book within a week of each other. What struck me was that the London production tried to make the four leads much more "likeable."

Despite the fact that the original FOLLIES has repeated moments of brilliance, the book is far from perfect. But I don't think any subsequent revision has helped.

Both "Ah But Underneath" and "Country House" made my mother gasp and squirm when she saw them because they described her life and marriage to a "T". Later I played her "Lucy and Jessie" and she couldn't even figure out what the song was about. Different strokes as they say ...

The biggest mistake about London was in cutting "The Road You Didn't Take" and giving Ben that awful new number in the Loveland sequence. Made no sense whatsoever. I liked cutting the "kids" numbers into two to introduce each of the couple's solos.

And all the performers were amazing, but yes, MacKenzie's Sally was definitive.
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re: Follies 1987 London Production#9
Posted: 10/24/08 at 10:03am
re: Follies 1987 London Production

One thing is inarguable- the poster was dazzling!

No good can possibly come from using this vast wasteland of error and deliberate deceit. You should get off of it and warn others away. You should make sure your children and grandchildren know what a corrupt and morally bankrupt institution it truly is.
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re: Follies 1987 London Production#10
Posted: 10/24/08 at 11:37am
According to legend, Sondheim said at the time of the London production:

"I used to stand in the back of the Winter Garden and think 'I love this--why does everybody hate this?' Now I stand here and watch this and think 'I hate this--why does everybody love this?'"
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re: Follies 1987 London Production#11
Posted: 10/24/08 at 12:30pm
I hate the cast cd.
"Carson has combined his passion for helping children with his love for one of Cincinnati's favorite past times - cornhole - to create a unique and exciting event perfect for a corporate outing, entertaining clients or family fun."

"In Oz, the verb is douchifizzation." PRS

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re: Follies 1987 London Production#12
Posted: 10/24/08 at 12:40pm
I love comparisons and contrasts, so I wish there were a way to see the original Broadway production and the West End version back to back. Is there any chance there were authorized archival videos made of the productions that could surface someday? My initial reactions to the West End production were so negative because of the changes (though I agree that the poster was gorgeous) that I'm curious to see whether I'd have the same reactions now as then.
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re: Follies 1987 London Production#13
Posted: 10/24/08 at 12:45pm
That wonderful poster was done in a set of 6 different colors and was embossed with silver.
A classic and a collectors piece!
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re: Follies 1987 London Production#14
Posted: 10/24/08 at 1:05pm
Oh Mama you know just how to cheer me up- of course I have the set of postcards! I also loved the second London poster. Dewynters at their finest!

I loved the London production- the Make the Most of Your Music song is meant to paint Ben as a smooth song & dance man- a metaphor for his life philosophy. A great staging of the song, but not as devastating as Live Laugh Love. The Road You Didn't Take is a serious omission.

The set literally exploded at the transformation, from shabby theatre on the point of demolition, into a froth of joy. Another classic design from the much-missed Maria Bjornson.

Maria Charles was utterly brilliant and Stella was given penty of oomph by Linda Baron!
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re: Follies 1987 London Production#15
Posted: 10/24/08 at 1:14pm
There was a wonderful London Follies souvenir package at the flea market this year that I wanted to buy but because it was London, for some reason he took it off the table. I know there are some clips of Loveland and the Mirror number on BlueGobo if anyone is interested.
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re: Follies 1987 London Production#16
Posted: 10/24/08 at 1:20pm
Dev, regarding that transformation- do you remember that the souvenir brochure had a gate fold picture in the centre showing the glorious set after the transformation! It had a sticker stopping you opening it saying 'Don't open until after the show!'
A glorious 'new' production that I saw about 30 times as I always arranged my work hours in the theatre so i caught the Weds matinees!
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re: Follies 1987 London Production#17
Posted: 10/24/08 at 2:52pm
I do indeed remember the souvenir brochure! The question is: did you peak beforehand? I know I did!

I saw the production 4 times in total and loved it hugely. I have to say I preferred Hope Jackman's Broadway Baby to Maragret Courteny, who sang with a tiny baby voice- I always hoped that towards the end she would unleash some huge belt, but it never happened.

And Paul Bentley was a superb Roscoe vocally. What is he doing now?

And then there was Eartha the legend. Dolores Gray was fine of course, but Eartha was giving it Wild-Party-vampiness 10 years or more before her incredible performance in the actual Wild Party! Pleasure beyond description!
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re: Follies 1987 London Production#18
Posted: 10/24/08 at 4:35pm
"Diana Rigg wasn't even in Who's That Woman."

You mean she wasn't in the filmed version that is on Bluegobo.

That is because she was suffering from conjuctivitis at the time of its filming. She also sat out Who's That Woman in the theatre when she had conjunctivitis but still performed Ah But Underneath.
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re: Follies 1987 London Production#19
Posted: 10/24/08 at 4:40pm
"Margaret Courtenay, who sang with a tiny baby voice"

I remember Sheridan Morley's review describing her as "more of a Broadstairs Baby than a Broadway Baby".
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re: Follies 1987 London Production#20
Posted: 10/24/08 at 4:40pm
Though I like "Country House"... I would say cutting the amazing Prologue and The Road You Didn't Take was pretty crazy. The new Prologue sucked in comparison. I wonder why Sondheim agreed to change his work in the first place, considering he hates the revisions now.
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re: Follies 1987 London Production#21
Posted: 10/24/08 at 4:48pm
Sondheim has said he agreed to the revisions because Goldman and MacKintosh really wanted to see if they could adjust the tone of the show.

It did it out of respect for his collaborators.
What great ones do the less will prattle of
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re: Follies 1987 London Production#22
Posted: 10/24/08 at 4:57pm
"What struck me was that the London production tried to make the four leads much more likeable."

The London production was about the difficulties of marriage that the British theatregoing generation, who were likely to go see it on the strength of the cast, would be able to identify with.

All the metaphors in the (magnificent) original book about the state of the USA were gone as this would be irrelevant to a British audience and would have no commercial appeal.

Similarly the (brilliant) emasculating dialogue used in the original was softened because this would also have alienated the sort of audiences the production wanted to attract.

The London production of Follies may have been soft-focussed compared to the original (and even to British sondheads at the time it was a disappointment) but, like West Side Story, it was a London production of a Broadway musical that ran for longer than the original did on Broadway.
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re: Follies 1987 London Production#23
Posted: 10/24/08 at 5:12pm
Hmm I had no idea it was disliked this much!

But as I said before, I adore Ah, But Underneath.
Did the Papermill production follow the london one or a mix of both or what? It looks like from the recording that it used "The Road You Didn't Take" but it also uses "Ah, But Underneath"

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re: Follies 1987 London Production#24
Posted: 10/24/08 at 5:18pm
Papermill used "Ah, But Underneath" performed wonderfully by Dee Hoty, who also danced in Who's That Woman as well. She probably could have done Lucy and Jessie, but I guess she doesn't really classify herself as dancer.

Papermill I believe was almost completely revamped in terms of the book, James Goldman worked hand in hand with the production team at Papermill. I never really "disliked" the lead four but in the Papermill version they come across and friendly and cordial to eachother and at least civil with their spouses and eachother.
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