What Did Critics Think of the National's FOLLIES?

By: Feb. 25, 2019


After a sold-out run, Follies returns to the NT in 2019. Stephen Sondheim's legendary musical includes such classic songs as 'Broadway Baby', 'I'm Still Here' and 'Losing My Mind'. Featuring a cast of 40 and an orchestra of 21, Follies is directed by Dominic Cooke. Tracie Bennett, Janie Dee and Peter Forbes return to reprise their roles, with Alexander Hanson and Joanna Riding joining the cast as Ben and Sally.

The Follies 2019 cast includes Julie Armstrong (Christine Donovan), Lindsay Atherton (Young Carlotta), Josephine Barstow (Heidi Schiller from mid-April until the end of the run), Rosanna Bates (Young Emily), Jeremy Batt (Young Theodore), Tracie Bennett (Carlotta Campion), Billy Boyle (Theodore Whitman), Kaye Brown (Ensemble), Janie Dee(Phyllis Rogers Stone), Anouska Eaton (Young Deedee), Liz Ewing (Ensemble), Vanessa Fisher (Young Stella),Caroline Fitzgerald (Sandra Crane), Geraldine Fitzgerald (Solange LaFitte), Peter Forbes (Buddy Plummer), Bruce Graham (Roscoe), Adrian Grove (Sam Deems), Alexander Hanson (Ben Stone), Alyn Hawke (Ensemble), Harry Hepple (Young Buddy), Aimee Hodnett (Young Sandra), Dawn Hope (Stella Deems), Liz Izen (Deedee West),Jasmine Kerr (Ensemble), Alison Langer (Young Heidi), Felicity Lott (Heidi Schiller from 12 February until mid-April),Sarah-Marie Maxwell (Young Solange), Ian McIntosh(Young Ben), Ian McLarnon (Ensemble), Claire Moore (Hattie Walker), Tom Partridge(Ensemble), Gary Raymond (Dimitri Weismann), Michael Remick (Ensemble), Rohan Richards (Kevin), Joanna Riding (Sally Durant Plummer), Lisa Ritchie (Young Hattie), Myra Sands (Emily Whitman),Gemma Sutton (Young Sally), Monica Swayne (Young Christine), Christine Tucker (Young Phyllis) and Liam Wrate(Chorus/Swing).

Follies is designed by Vicki Mortimer, with choreography by Bill Deamer, musical supervision by Nicholas Skilbeck, orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, additional orchestrations by Josh Clayton, musical director Nigel Lilley, lighting design by Paule Constable and sound design by Paul Groothuis.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Louis Train, BroadwayWorld: The incredible thing is that Dominic Cooke's Follies doesn't just evoke memories, it makes new ones. The music is so haunting, the performances so touching, the dance so exhilarating, you'll find yourself thinking about it, humming about it, tapping to it, for a long time after.

Marianka Swain, The Arts Desk: Far more atmospheric than plot-driven, Sondheim and James Goldman's oft-revised 1971 work has flummoxed many. But Cooke's version, which returns to the show's roots, finds endless creative solutions.

Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard: Follies is a sophisticated, frustrating, centrifugal piece, capturing evanescent moments in time, rather than a dutiful plod of linear narrative. Two of the biggest numbers - Broadway Baby and I'm Still Here - are sung by peripheral characters; at least Joanna Riding's impressively fragile Sally gets the third, Losing My Mind. Dee's Phyllis is sparklingly brittle, overflowing with past dreams and missed opportunities.

Natasha Tripney, The Stage: Taking over from Imelda Staunton, Joanna Riding slips effortlessly into the role of Sally. The case could be made that she's an even better fit for the part; initially perky and bright, the depth of her sadness gradually becomes apparent and her delivery of Losing My Mind is not merely heart-breaking, but heart-destroying; as her mascara bleeds down her cheeks, it undoes you completely.

Stefan Kyriazis, Express: Following the sold-out run last year, the classic musical is back with one major change. Joanna Riding has replaced Imelda Staunton as Sally. She is arguably a better fit for the role of a fragile yet ruthless woman who can't let go of the past and the illusion of love with her best friend's husband. Riding is wonderful throughout, mixing crippling self-doubt and steely selfishness until she brings it home in the iconic Losing My Mind.

Chris Bridges, Londonist: It's a huge spectacle of a show with sets and wardrobe that must have blown the budget for the next few years, some stonking great musical numbers and a whole section where the show morphs into a crazy all-singing all-dancing tribute to Broadway/Busby Berkeley/Vaudeville. There are enough rhinestones to satisfy the most needy of drag queens and enough feathers to stuff duvets for a family of six.

Photo Credit: Johan Persson

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