Follies in concert - 4 February 2007

With the exception of some songs, Follies was a show that I knew very little about it. The Palladium was an ideal setting for this show about the reunion of a 'Follies' theatre colourful past and as each person remembers an element of their life there they reminisce and perform once more their signature songs. Heading up this and central to the brief story are Sally, Ben, Phyllis and Buddy 4 friends who spent their youth as the hoofers in the show and later married. Sally has made it through the intervening years by holding on to her love for Ben, the man she was once engaged too but not the one she married. Believing love has remained strong she naively plans to leave Buddy and start a new life with Ben. Ben, a man who has spent the years married but less than faithfully believes he is independent and that Phyllis was not the woman he should have married. Yet as he starts to fall apart, during all the events, he realises the one person he does love and who supports him is his wife. Phyllis having endured all this in silence over the years tells him not to dare to think about her leaving him. As the friends meet again Buddy and Phyllis watch and see the usual behaviour of Sally and Ben with a very much 'there you go, I knew this would happen' attitude

This concert version was excellent, semi staged with a great orchestra on stage. It is hard to see this working as such as a full show as the concert format, or this semi staged look suits it so well. A superb cast was headed by Philip Quast (Ben), Maria Friedman (Sally), Tim Flavin (Buddy) and Liz Robertson Phyllis) as the four friends and there was great support from the whole cast but for me particular memorable moments were Kim Criswell (I'm Still here) truly showing how a song can be performed to the hilt and Imelda Staunton's big and broad 'Broadway Baby'. The final section as the four main characters sing their final numbers which, on the whole, truly show the mental instability of their characters were excellent.

Slight disappointment was Maria Friedman's 'Losing my mind' as the final 'you said you love me, or were you just being kind' lacked the full power behind it. Liliane Montevecci, looked great but unfortunately I couldn’t understand a single word she sang.

The young Phyllis, Sally, Ben and Buddy were very well played by Summer Strallen, Rachel Barrel, Adam-Jon Fiorentino and Neil McDermott, creating that believable relationship of those friendship days in the theatre.

It was a great evening at the theatre and worked so well in this format.

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