Considered by most Broadway aficionados to be one of the most dynamic and dazzling musicals in history, FOLLIES is unarguably a modern masterpiece. Premiering in 1971 with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by James Goldman, Harold Prince and Michael Bennett's original production is often posited by those who witnessed it as one of the most perfect stagings of any theatre piece to date. Exploring the complex relationships of several former showgirls and their significant others at a reunion of the Weissman Follies on the eve of the theater's destruction, FOLLIES is one of the only real-time musicals ever presented, which makes it almost wholly unique. It is actually happening, right now, on the stage in front of you - wherever that stage may be. Of course, time marches on and so that magical element will never be able to be replicated in quite the same way, but the limits of the imagination remain endless
Although the original production of FOLLIES ran for nearly two years in its original run, the most expensive musical ever produced on Broadway to that time lost its entire investment. And, while it won seven Tony Awards, it lost the big prize to a rock musical version of Shakespeare's TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA in one of the most head-scratching decisions in awards history. Nonetheless, the revered legend of the premiere production lingers to this day.
Numerous major revivals have followed since, with Sondheim majorly reworking the show for an elaborate West End iteration produced by Cameron Mackintosh in 1987. Broadway revivals in 2001 and 2011 were met with middling success, while concert stagings at Lincoln Center in 1985 and City Center in 2007 were highly regarded by critics and audiences alike. Appreciably, what many consider to be the definitive revival to date - and some say the near-equal of the initial 1971 version - is returning to the West End early next year, following a smash hit run in 2017, which was followed by a rapturously received cinema broadcast.
Once again leading the cast will be Janie Dee and Peter Forbes, with West End stalwarts Alexander Hanson and Joanna Riding stepping into the roles originated by Philip Quast and Imelda Staunton. Will lightning strike again? Featuring a quartet that notable in the central parts ensures most likely, yes.