By the Boards: Dennis Brown on the STL Theater Scene June 12-14
"Follies is a very personal show," he explained, "involving how you feel about aging, marriage and the possibility of intimate human relationships. At the time the original show was written, all of us involved were going through lousy times in one way or another. So there is something bitter and bleak about the show, which by 1987 I didn't like any more. I still think the original show was terrific, but it no longer said what I wanted it to say."
So he rewrote it, which is more difficult to do if your show is a success.
"Follies will always affect people, even in its present version, which is much less bitter and sour," Goldman continued. "But it can never be an easy show, because it deals with growing old. In London I think both Stephen and I finally dealt with what we always meant to deal with but had not dealt with in 1971. I'm talking about the real subject of what the show should have been, which is coming to terms. Coming to terms with the fact that you're never going to be an Olympic swimmer, you're never going to be six feet tall. Whatever lies in your present and future has to be accepted. You have to come to terms with it. That's never a light experience. So the show doesn't float along on hearts and flowers, because the difficulty with the material is built in. But the tone is now different. One thing we've learned through the years is that Follies has always had a tremendous effect on young people."
If you prefer your Sondheim unadorned -- sans libretto -- you might try "Putting It Together: The Music of Stephen Sondheim," Ken Haller's cabaret performance at the Kranzberg Arts Center tonight and tomorrow night, June 12 and 13. To listen to a compilation of Sondheim songs -- especially those for which he wrote both words and music -- is to be thrilled by a rare kind of theater music in which ambition embraces melody.