Broadway Stars and Valley Luminaries to Lead FOLLIES at Theater Works, Beginning 2/20

Broadway stars and Valley luminaries create a perfect storm of talent in the Arizona premiere of FOLLIES, Stephen Sondheim's musical masterpiece. The show that was named "one of the greatest musicals ever written" by the New York Times opens on the Theater Works stage at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts Friday, February 20th.

Theater Works has assembled one of the most thrilling casts in its history and it seems only appropriate that a musical about a reunion of retired performers be presented by some of the Valley's finest and best-beloved stars of the stage!

Just to name a few...Patti Davis Suarez appeared opposite Lauren Bacall and Anne Baxter in the Broadway production of APPLAUSE, following her Broadway debut in HOW NOW, DOW JONES and her appearance in the original cast of PROMISES, PROMISES (choreographed by Michael Bennett -- the choreographer for the original production of FOLLIES!) Patti was, in fact, asked to audition for the original production of FOLLIES, but turned it down for another opportunity (one of her greatest regrets).

Kelli James Chase was a part of the original Broadway cast of LES MISERABLES (Eponine) and she has appeared in many other award-winning productions including the LA revival of HAIR, THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW (Columbia) in San Francisco, EVITA (Perón's Mistress), directed by Hal Prince, ASPECTS OF LOVE (Giulietta Trapani) and JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT (The Narrator) opposite Donny Osmond. She was also chosen by Andrew Lloyd Webber to appear in the world premiere of The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber in Concert and had the honor of performing in The Tribute of Hal Prince in Concert.

Shari Watts was named Best Actress of the Year by the Phoenix New Times in 2014, for her performance of Violet Weston in AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY. She also won an ariZoni award for her performance as Martha in Theater Works' production of WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF.

Beth Anne Johnson returns to Theater Works in her first appearance since 2000. Since then, she has received rave reviews for portraying Marmee in LITTLE WOMEN and Nancy in OLIVER. She has also written two pop/country albums, which are available on iTunes.

A few of the FOLLIES leading men include: acclaimed Valley-wide performer and director Rusty Ferracane and Valley favorite Scott Hyder - on board to portray Ben Stone and Buddy Plummer, respectively. Joshua Vern (Young Ben) takes the stage for his third Sondheim production with Theater Works and Lee Pitts who appeared as Stanford White in RAGTIME last season returns as Young Buddy Plummer. Veteran Phoenix actor Marty Berger who won an AriZoni award for the title role of KING LEAR returns to the Theater Works stage for the first time in many years. He will be sharing the spotlight with his daughter, Kathleen Berger, who most recently appeared in I GET A KICK OUT OF COLE, HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, CATS and HAIRSPRAY.

Phillip Fazio, director of Theater Works' production RAGTIME, returns from New York, where his credits include the Fringe Festival and the Think Theater Project, to put FOLLIES on its feet. He is joined by choreographer Misha Shields whose work has appeared at the Algonquin Theater Company, the Boston Conservatory and the Ford Foundation, joins him.

When asked about directing FOLLIES and Sondheim, Fazio says "Follies is a surreal, heart-wrenching examination of a life in the theater and the great mystery of 'the road you didn't take'. I firmly believe that Stephen Sondheim is our modern day equivalent to William Shakespeare. To call his writing deeply rich and beautifully complex would be a massive understatement. It is so rare to say that you discover something new each time you listen to a song, especially a song you've heard hundreds of times, but that is exactly what happens with Sondheim. It is truly a dream come true to work on his material."

Resident Musical Director, Steve Hilderbrand, has assembled a 15-member live orchestra, the largest in Theater Works' history. Hilderbrand is considered one of the finest interpreters of Sondheim's works in the Valley. His previous Sondheim credits include SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM (Central Community Theater, AriZoni nomination), SWEENEY TODD (Theater Works, ariZoni nomination), INTO THE WOODS and A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC (Theater Works, ariZoni nomination). He has also received ariZoni nominations for MUSICAL OF MUSICALS: THE MUSICAL! (Central Community Theater) and last year's acclaimed collaboration with Fazio, RAGTIME.

Stephen Sondheim is the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, America's highest distinction in the performing arts, given to individuals for their contributions to American culture. Mr. Sondheim has also received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and is the winner of the most Tony Awards of any composer/lyricist (eight so far), the Academy Award for Best Original Song ("Sooner or Later," from DICK TRACY), eight Grammy Awards and many more.

FOLLIES opens on the Gyder Stage at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts on February 20, 2015 and runs through March 15, 2015. Get your tickets now - you won't want to miss this "perfect storm" of talent!

To purchase tickets call the Theater Works Box Office at 623.815.7930 Monday - Friday 10am to 4pm or visit

Theater Works, at Peoria Center for the Performing Arts is in its 29th season of providing exceptional theater to the West Valley. As a destination, it features more then 200 events a year including: live theater, classical concerts, jazz, popular music, dance, comedy, cultural events, festivals, youth and adult education classes and much more. Theater Works is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, call the box office at 623.815.7930 or visit

Photo Credit: Moran Imaging

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