October 4

November 13, 2011

in CST's Courtyard Theater

book by James Goldman
music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
directed by Gary Griffin

Critical Acclaim

“Highly Recommended! Follies dazzles at every turn. If you are passionately in love with show business then Follies, the Stephen Sondheim-James Goldman extravaganza now receiving a massive, insightfully cast, can-you-top-this production at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater is the show to see.”

“     Griffin, invariably at his formidable best in Chicago and Stratford when translating formidable proscenium musicals into more intimate and personal thrust configurations, has achieved a Follies with real human consequences. Reunions sting because they reveal the agonizing inequality of our achievements, be they professional or personal. Happiness, misery, failure and success are afforded us without referent to our deserving, and even a receipt won't get you an exchange. That's the heart of Follies, and, to Griffin's great credit, it beats here with palpable force.”

“      Sondheim and Goldman’s metatheatrical meditation on memory and regret gets a stellar full-scale revival. Follies includes some jarringly original takes on now-standard Sondheim numbers, including Marilynn Bogetich’s determined and slightly bitter “Broadway Baby” and Hollis Resnik’s transcendently specific take on most-likely-to-have-succeeded showgirl Carlotta. Resnik turns the oft-showy “I’m Still Here” into an understated, clear-eyed anthem to resilience. Susan Moniz’s Sally, who for 30 years has been nursing a spark for Ben even though she married Buddy, supplies a haunting summation of her trials in “Losing My Mind,” while Caroline O’Connor delivers a pair of showstoppers as Phyllis. Her “Could I Leave You?” is a calculated, pent-up list of grievances to Ben; “The Story of Lucy and Jessie” is an astounding display of dance and vocal skill in the service of the story.”

“Anyone with the merest interest in musical theater greatness needs to seize the moment. I can’t recall a better acted, sung, and danced musical on an area stage since the earliest touring version of A Chorus Line. CST has cast the production with a multi-generational group of local performers, especially females who have entertained area audiences for decades...and the production fills out its roster with a cluster of imports. The sum total is an exceptional ensemble that delivers one showstopper after another.”

“Second City, shmeckend city. Chicago Shakespeare’s riveting and moving production of Follies is second to none. There is perhaps no better director able to find fresh and new subtle nuances in a revival of a classic work of musical theater than Gary Griffin. In his skilled hands, the show, once a loving albeit premature eulogy to the American Broadway musical, remains relevant in our youth-obsessed culture with its short attention span, existing as a smart, respectful love letter to Golden Age musical traditions that keenly encourages theatergoers to look with optimism.”

“This splashy production launches Chicago Shakespeare Theater's 25th Anniversary Season and it features an all-star cast of top talent from near and far. Dazzling with more than 40 actors and musicians led by Olivier Award nominees Brent Barrett as Benjamin Stone and Caroline O'Connor as Phyllis Rogers Stone, with Robert Petkoff as Buddy Plummer and Susan Moniz as Sally Durant Plummer. And performing the role of saucy Carlotta Campion is Chicago's shining, talented favorite Hollis Resnik. By the finale, it's well deserved standing ovations and raves for all.”

“It is spectacular. Gary Griffin has demonstrated over the years that he is perhaps the premiere interpreter of Stephen Sondheim. Anybody who wants to know what the big deal about Sondheim is should go see this show—because it demonstrates both that he has both the capacity to write and address deeply emotional material.”

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