Sunday, November 17, 2019


Speaking of Stephen Sondheim, musical fans are abuzz--the show many consider his masterpiece, Follies, will finally become a film.  The original version opened on Broadway in 1971 and has since had many major productions around the world, including two Broadway revivals. The 1971 show ran 522 performances and won seven Tonys, but still lost all its money. 

It's got one of the Sondheim's most profligate scores, featuring 22 numbers (give or take a few, depending on the production and how you count them).  Many of them are written in the style of older composers, many are modern.  The show has a problem, though.  It's miserable.

The book is by James Goldman.  It's about a bunch of show biz people returning in 1971 to an old theatre about to be torn down.  We see not only the former Follies girls today, but the ghosts of what they once were.  The two central couples are Phyllis and Ben, and Sally and Buddy.  They reminisce a bit, but none of them are happy.  In the end, they each get to do a number to remind us how unhappy they are.

The book has been reworked more than once, but, as far as I can tell, there's still not much plot, and what little there is isn't a load of laughs.  Perhaps movie magic (and rewriting) can fix this, but it wouldn't seem like this is a good subject for a film.  Instead, why not make a movie of Company?  First produced in 1970, it has a better (as far as I'm concerned) score and a much shorter one.  Sure, it's told as a mosaic of short scenes, but there's something there, and with a little reworking, could be turned into an enjoyable and telling film.


Post a Comment

<< Home

web page hit counter