Review by G. L. Horton
Copyright © 2003
Follies in Concert
The "Follies in Concert" that
Deb Poppel's Overture Productions has mounted at John Hancock Hall
is glorious, not to be missed. There were some empty seats at last
Friday's opening--- don't let this happen again! It isn't just that
Boston's splendid home team singers put their individual stamp on
the brilliant and moving star-turn songs that stud this show: Kathy
St. George's "Ah, Paris"; Mary Callanan's "Broadway Baby"; Bobbie
Steinbach's "I'm Still Here"; Maryann Zschau's "Could I Leave You?"
and "The Ballad of Lucy and Jessie" ; Frank Gayton's "Buddy's Blues":
and Leigh Barrett's "Don't Look at Me" "In Buddy's Eyes," "Losing
My Mind," and "Too Many Mornings." It isn't just the difference
a full orchestra free of the pit and in intimate collaboration with
the performers makes. It's that director Spiro Veloudos and conductor
Michael Joseph and the Overtures company has captured the tragic
transcendence latent in musical theatre, which "Follies" mines by
claim-jumping the field from Minsky's to Mozart.
Musical performance in two acts.
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
Book by James Goldman.
Directed by Spiro Veloudos.
Musical director, Michael Joseph.
Choreography, Ilyse Robbins.
Lights, Ellen Moore.
Sound, E.L. Copeland.
Produced by Overture Productions
It is true that "In Concert" presents "Follies" interlocking
set of metaphors with only a nod towards those-- like "Beautiful
Girls" "Mirror, Mirror" or "Loveland"-- that are dependent on
Spectacle, but you can close your eyes as the gorgeous sound embraces
you and picture a production to match. You may never have another
chance to hear Sondheim's "Follies" ensembles and choruses with
this degree of clarity and balance and expressivity. Beginning
and coming full circle with "Waiting for the Girls Upstairs",
the ensembles are woven from longing and loss: banal patterns,
easy ironies, clever quips and second hand fantasies individualized
and harmonized so beautifully that they break your heart, time
after time. Love vs lust, ripening vs decay, art vs manipulation--
the lines are so fine that they may be visible only to the eyes
of innocent folly or of enlightenment. Most of us stumble around
in ignorance, chasing rainbows, falling through the cracks, most
of the time-- though our desperation is quieter than the cruel
eloquence James Goldman's book and Stephen Sondheim's lyrics give
their characters. The eloquence of the first act "The Road You
Didn't Take" is parodied and purged through the razz-matazz of
Show Biz psychoanalysis finale in "You're Gonna Love Tomorrow"
"Love Will See Us Through" and "Live, Laugh, Love", and then we're
back to "The Girls Upstairs"-- but it's not the same. We've been
on a purgatorial journey, to arrive at wisdom, and wisdom's broken
but open heart.
At John Hancock Hall, Friday Nov. 22 and Saturday Nov. 23, 8:00pm