Follies

Date 29th March 2014
Society Alnwick Stage Musical Society
Venue The Playhouse, Alnwick
Type of Production Musical
Director Penny Brown
Musical Director Peter Brown
Choreographer Penny Brown

Report

Author: Jim Graham

Stephen Sondheim’s career has spanned many decades, penning shows such as “Sweeney Todd”, “Company”, “Into The Woods” and, of course, “Follies”, book by James Goldman, which is currently experiencing a world-wide performance revival.  The story centres around a fictitious revue theatre, about to be demolished, called the Weisman Follies, where there is a re-union of former performers complete with their ghosts who, in flash-backs, rediscover the past in a series of highly emotional scenes of lust, marriage, relationships, neuroses and obsessions that form the basis to the Follies story.

A strong and experienced cast is needed to really do justice to Sondheim’s work and I felt that the Alnwick Society came up to the mark and provided the necessary expertise.  Arlene Cadman (Heidi Schiller) and Sarah Purvis (Young Heidi) were excellent, singing their separate parts of “One More Kiss”.  Barbara Naylor (Carlotta Campion) in the Saturday performance sang well in “I’m Still Here”. Carol Robson (Sally Durant-Plummer) and Kathryn Curry (Hattie Walker) deserve a mention for their excellent performances both in acting and singing.  Some of the musical numbers were very short and punchy.  Margaret and Len Reece (Emily and Theodore Whitman, respectively) were very lively in “Rain on the Roof” whilst Ali Wrangham (Solange la Fitte) turned “Ah Paris” into a very nice sexy number.  Kathryn Curry (Hattie Walker) completed a trio of short songs with “Broadway Baby”

The ladies were well supported by their leading men.  Anthony Stoker (Benjamin Stone) sang superbly throughout the show, and Dave Penny (Buddy Plummer) sang with the emotion needed for the part.

“Follies”, a two-act show with a single set, ends with the fantasy “Loveland” sequence played in front of a cloth.  In “Loveland” each of the characters confront their younger selves, are whisked into a dream in which each person acts out his or her own principal folly, and where the folly of each character is revealed.  Dave Penny (Buddy Plummer) with the dancers was an excellent comedy number.  The show ended with Anthony Stoker (Benjamin Stone) giving a moving performance illustrating his breakdown. As always, from the “heartbreak of the past, there can be new beginnings”.  Added to this mix was a solid chorus and some good dancing to complete the evening’s entertainment.  Scenery designed by Penny Brown (the Director) provided a very appropriate set for the story. The 7-piece on-stage orchestra, led by Peter Brown on the keyboard, was quiet and unobtrusive but provided all the necessary support for the singing.  Lighting was atmospheric, perhaps a little too dark occasionally, but nevertheless very effective.  It was a good and enjoyable show