Chapin tells how the 1971 Hal Prince/ Stephen Sondheim/Michael Bennett musical about old theater performers created no strapping young stars, went through multiple revisions, lost money and yet established a place in theater memory for emotional and artistic complexity. The author, son of arts impresario Schuyler Chapin, was one of Follies's few youngsters, a Connecticut College student observing the production as independent study but becoming the crew's gofer. Chapin's chronology spans the practical to the exceptional, from how tap sounds are created to the last-minute writing of Yvonne De Carlo's now-standard I'm Still Here. He also charts Boris Aronson's multileveled sets, the dress that transformed Alexis Smith into the show's star, the inestimable uses of previews in Boston, the Broadway opening and the surrounding national interest in the play. Chapin doesn't dwell on the negative audience reaction to Follies's ambiguities, leaving the play's year-long run to tell the tale. Despite much praise and many Tony Awards, Follies closed after 522 performances. It lost almost $800,000 and was considered a "financial failure." Still, nearly all the players considered it a high point of their careers. Prince called it his "favorite show"; Bennett said, "So much of that show was better than anything I've ever seen or anything I've ever done." Maybe, as Frank Rich says, it needs time to gain its place in theater history. Whatever happens, Chapin memorably marks the creation of a difficult, honorable work. 8 pages of color photos and 63 b&w photos in text.
Publisher: Applause Books