Sunday, October 9, 2011

They're STILL HERE!

Good times and bum times
I've seen them all and my dear
I'm still here.
Plush velvet sometimes
Sometimes just pretzels and beer


But I'm here.
Carlotta Campion in Follies

Happy Sunday!,
I had no idea what I was going to write about this morning and then someone sent me a YouTube clip of Polly Bergen in the last Broadway revival of Follies.

Of course, it is now on Broadway once again with Elaine Paige stopping the show night after night with the aged actress' anthem, "I'm Still Here".
Here's to the ladies AND Stephen Sondheim who have earned the right to this song!

I've stuffed the dailies in my shoes,
Strummed ukuleles, sung the blues
Seen all my dreams disappear
But I'm here.




Follies is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by James Goldman.

I've slept in shanties
Guest of the WPA
But I'm here


The story concerns a reunion in a crumbling Broadway theatre, scheduled for demolition, of the past performers of the "Weismann's Follies," a musical revue (based on the Ziegfeld Follies), that played in that theatre between the World Wars.

Danced in my scanties
Three bucks a night was the pay
But I'm here


It focuses on two couples, Buddy and Sally Durant Plummer and Benjamin and Phyllis Rogers Stone, who are attending the reunion. Sally and Phyllis were showgirls in the Follies. Both couples are deeply unhappy with their marriages. Buddy, a traveling salesman, is having an affair with a girl on the road; Sally is still as much in love with Ben as she was years ago; and Ben is so self-absorbed that Phyllis feels emotionally abandoned. Several of the former showgirls perform their old numbers, sometimes accompanied by the ghosts of their former selves. But today, I wish to focus on Carlotta and the women who played her...and continued to play her.

I've stood on breadlines with the best
Watched while the headlines did the rest
In the Depression, was I depressed?
Nowhere near.
I met a big financier
And I'm here.


For some women of a certain age, those lyrics certainly ring true. Kudos to you, Mr. Sondheim for capturing a career that has careened from career to career and putting it in a time capsule.

I've been through Gandhi,
Windsor and Wally's affair
And I'm here

On the soon-to-be demolished stage of the Weismann Theatre, a reunion is being held to honor Weismann's "Follies" shows past, and the beautiful chorus girls who once performed there. The once resplendent theatre is now little but planks and scaffolding (Prologue/Overture). As the ghosts of the young showgirls slowly drift through the theatre, a majordomo enters with his entourage of waiters and waitresses. They pass through the spectral showgirls without seeing them.

One by one, we meet the showgirls and stars of Weisman's Follies and their stories start to unfold. Carlotta, the focus of today's blog, amuses everyone with a tale of how her dramatic solo was cut from the Follies because the audience found it humorous, but somehow the number works when she sings it today ("I'm Still Here").

The first actress to sing those lyrics on stage was Yvonne De Carlo; this role usually is given to a well-known veteran performer who can belt out a song.

Amos and Andy,
Mahjong and platinum hair
And I'm here


Follies had its pre-Broadway tryout at the Colonial Theatre, Boston, from February 20 through March 20, 1971.
Yvonne De Carlo - the original Carlotta - she is sensational here- she plays it perfectly and gets the dynamics of the lyrics - wish I had seen her then!

Michael Musto, who is STLL HERE...thank God, in his review of the current Broadway revival begins his review with these words, "Is a serviceable Follies good enough? Yes, because the 1971 classic is such a rich, dark leap into regret, with a witty and poignant Sondheim score -- and besides, the Eric Schaeffer-directed production rises to the occasion for Act Two.
You know the drill:

A famed vaudeville theater is being turned into a parking lot, so the producer invites all the old showstoppers for a reunion, where their missed opportunities collide, basically leading to one musical breakdown after another.
"

This angst ridden show has ALWAYS been problematic.

I've been through Abie's Irish Rose,
Five Dionne Babies
Major Bowes
Had heebie-jeebies
For Beebe's bathysphere
I lived through Brenda Frazier
And I'm here.

From Wikipedia: The musical was produced at The Muny, St. Louis, Missouri in July 1972 and then transferred to the Shubert Theatre, Century City, California, running from July 22, 1972 through October 1, 1972. It was directed by Hal Prince and starred Dorothy Collins (Sally; replaced by Janet Blair), Alexis Smith (Phyllis), John McMartin (Benjamin; replaced by Edward Winter), Gene Nelson (Buddy), and Yvonne De Carlo (Carlotta) reprising their original roles.

I've gotten through Herbert and J. Edgar Hoover
Gee, that was fun and a half
When you've been through Herbert and J. Edgar Hoover
Anything else is a laugh.
I've been through Reno
I've been through Beverly Hills
And I'm here




The production was the premiere attraction at the newly constructed 1,800-seat theatre, which, ironically, was itself razed thirty years later (in 2002, in order to build a new office building), thus mirroring the Follies plot line upon which the musical is based.

Reefers and vino
Rest cures, religion, and pills
And I'm here
Been called a pinko commie tool
Got through it stinko by my pool
I should have gone to an acting school
That seems clear
Still someone said, "She's sincere."
So I'm here.





Black sable one day
Next day it goes into hock
But I'm here
Top billing Monday
Tuesday, you're touring in stock
But I'm here


A full production ran at the Forum Theatre, Wythenshawe, England, from 30 April 1985, directed by Howard Lloyd-Lewis, design by Chris Kinman, costumes by Charles Cusick-Smith, lighting by Tim Wratten, musical direction by Simon Lowe, and choreographed by Paul Kerryson.

First you're another sloe-eyed vamp,
Then someone's mother,
Then you're camp
Then you career from career
To career
I'm almost through me memoirs
And I'm here.


The cast included Mary Millar (Sally Durant Plummer), Liz Izen (Young Sally), Linda Jane Holmes (Francesca), Meg Johnson (Stella Deems), Les Want (Max Deems), Betty Benfield (Heidi Schiller), Richard Torn (Charles D. Bonhof), Joseph Powell (Roscoe), Chili Bouchier (Hattie Walker), Shirley Greenwood (Emily Whitman), Bryan Burdon (Theodore Whitman), Peter Honri (Vincent), Marie Lorraine (Vanessa), Anthony Thomas James (Photographer), Kim Ismay (Young Vanessa), Monica Dell (Solange LaFitte), Jeannie Harris (Carlotta Campion), Josephine Blake (Phyllis Rogers Stone), Kevin Colson (Benjamin Stone), Debbie Snook (Young Phyllis), Stephen Hale (Young Ben), Bill Bradley (Buddy Plummer), Paul Burton (Young Buddy), David Scase (Dimitri Weismann), Lorraine Croft (Young Stella), Meryl Richardson (Young Heidi), David Morgan-Young (Kevin), Anthony O’Driscoll (Chauffeur), and Mitch Sebastian (Young Vincent).

I've gotten through "Hey lady, aren't you whoozis?
Wow, what a looker you were."
Or better yet, "Sorry, I though you were whoozis.
What ever happened to her?"
Good times and bum times
I've seen them all and my dear
I'm still here


1973 Stock Touring Production
Cast

Sally Durant Plummer - Jane Kean
Phyllis Rogers Stone - Vivian Blaine [replaced by Julie Wilson]
Benjamin Stone - Robert Alda
Buddy Plummer - Don Liberto [replaced by Dick Latessa]
Stella Deems - Mary Small
Hattie Walker - Lillian Roth [replaced by Selma Diamond]

Plush velvet sometimes
Sometimes just pretzels and beer
But I'm here.
I've run the gamut A to Z
Three cheers and damn it
C'est la vie.
I got through all of last year
And I'm here




Lord knows at least I was there
But I'm here
Look who's here
I'm still here.


Solange LaFitte - Hildegarde [replaced by Fifi D'Orsay]
Young Phyllis - Edie Cowan
Young Sally - Sara Louise
Young Buddy - Cress Barrientez
Young Ben - Tod Miller
Vincent - Steven Boockvor
Vanessa - Jayne Turner
Heidi Schiller - Jeanne Grant
Carlotta Campion - Lynn Bari
(Lynn Bari, pictured)

[replaced by Julie Wilson, then Marion Marlowe]She is still here and still amazing! Got to love Julie!I am SO LUCKY! She is a dear friend!

John Michael Koroly wrote: "Richard, when I was only just starting to review cabaret, there were certain singers of whom I wondered "what's the big deal?" The first time I saw Julie in the Oak Room, I most certainly GOT the big deal."


A staged concert at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, was performed on September 6 and 7, 1985. The concert starred Barbara Cook (Sally), George Hearn (Ben), Mandy Patinkin (Buddy), and Lee Remick (Phyllis), and featured Carol Burnett (Carlotta), Betty Comden (Emily), Adolph Green (Theodore), Liliane Montevecchi (Solange LaFitte), Elaine Stritch (Hattie Walker), Phyllis Newman (Stella Deems), Jim Walton (Young Buddy), Howard McGillin (Young Ben), Liz Callaway (Young Sally), Daisy Prince (Young Phyllis), Andre Gregory (Dmitri), Arthur Rubin (Roscoe), and Licia Albanese (Heidi Schiller).




Frank Rich, in his review, noted that "As performed at Avery Fisher Hall, the score emerged as an original whole, in which the 'modern' music and mock vintage tunes constantly comment on each other, much as the script's action unfolds simultaneously in 1971 (the year of the reunion) and 1941 (the year the Follies disbanded).




Among the reasons the concert was staged was to provide an opportunity to record the entire score. The resulting album was more complete than the original cast album.
However, director Herbert Ross took some liberties in adapting the book and score for the concert format—dance music was changed, songs were given false endings, new dialogue was spoken, reprises were added, and Patinkin was allowed to sing "The God-Why-Don't-You-Love-Me Blues" as a solo instead of a trio with two chorus girls. Portions of the concert were seen by audiences worldwide in the televised documentary about the making of the concert, also released on videotape and DVD, of 'Follies' in Concert.

The musical played in the West End at the Shaftesbury Theatre on July 21, 1987 and closed on February 4, 1989 after 644 performances. The producer was Cameron Mackintosh, direction was by Mike Ockrent, with choreography by Bob Avian and design by Maria Bjornson. The cast featured Diana Rigg (Phyllis), Daniel Massey (Ben), Julia McKenzie (Sally), David Healy (Buddy), Lynda Baron, Leonard Sachs, Maria Charles, Pearl Carr & Teddy Johnson. Dolores Gray was praised as Carlotta.
During the run, Eartha Kitt replaced Gray, sparking somewhat of a comeback (she went on to perform her own one woman show at The Shaftesbury Theatre to sell-out houses for three weeks from 18 March 1989 after "Follies" closed). Other cast replacements included Millicent Martin as Phyllis. Julia McKenzie returned to the production for the final four performances.




1976 Equity Library Production

Cast

Sally Durant Plummer - Lori Ann Saunders
Roscoe - Andrew Roman
Phyllis Rogers Stone - Joan Ulmer
Benjamin Stone - George F. Maguire
Buddy Plummer - Jack Finnegan
Dimitri Weismann - Donald C. Moore
Stella Deems - Ileane Gudell
Max Deems - Joshua Michaels
Hattie Walker - Sarah Philips Felcher
Solange LaFitte - Lucille Patton
Young Phyllis - Eleanor Barbor
Young Sally - Sara Louise
Young Buddy - Randy Hugill
Young Ben - Richard Cooper Bayne [replaced by Kurt Johnson]
Vincent - Alan Gilbert
Vanessa - Lucille Patton
Heidi Schiller - Lynn Archer [replaced by Margaret Goodman]
Carlotta Campion - Barbara Lee

1985 Manchester [UK] ProductionCast

Sally Durant Plummer - Mary Millar
Young Sally - Liz Izen
Francesca - Linda Jane Holmes
Stella Deems - Meg Johnson
Max Deems - Les Want
Heidi Schiller - Betty Benfield
Charles D. Bonhof - Richard Torn
Roscoe - Joseph Powell
Hattie Walker - Chili Bouchier
Emily Whitman - Shirley Greenwood
Theodore Whitman - Bryan Burdon
Vincent - Peter Honri
Vanessa - Marie Lorraine
Photographer - Anthony Thomas James
Young Vanessa - Kim Ismay
Solange LaFitte - Monica Dell
Carlotta Campion - Jeannie Harris

1995 Theater Under the Stars Production
Cast
Cast

Phyllis Rogers Stone - Constance Towers
Sally Durant Plummer - Judy Kaye
Ben Stone - Walter Charles
Buddy Plummer - John-Charles Kelly
Carlotta Campion - Karen Morrow

1998 Paper Mill Playhouse Production(which we saw)

Cast

Dmitri Weismann - Eddie Bracken

"The Weissman Girls"
Sally Durant Plummer - Donna McKechnie
Young Sally - Danette Holden
Phyllis Rogers Stone - Dee Hoty
Young Phyllis - Meredith Patterson
Carlotta Campion - Ann Miller
Opened April 15, 1998 at the Paper Mill Playhouse, Milburn NJ
Closed May 31, 1998
Produced by the Paper Mill Playhouse
Angelo Del Rossi, Executive Producer
Robert Johanson, Artistic Director]
Associate Producer: Roy Miller
Produced in association with Gene R. Korf
Directed by Robert Johanson
Choreography by Jerry Mitchell
Original Choreography by Michael Bennett and Bob Avian for "Who's That Woman"
Scenic Design by Michael Anania
Costumes by Gregg Barnes
Lighting Design by Mark Stanley




2001 Broadway Revival
Cast

Phyllis Rogers Stone - Blythe Danner
Benjamin Stone - Gregory Harrison
Sally Durant Plummer - Judith Ivey
Buddy Plummer - Treat Williams
Carlotta Campion - Polly Bergen

2002 Reprise! (Los Angeles) Production

Cast

Sally Durant Plummer - Vikki Carr
Buddy Plummer - Harry Groener
Phyllis Rogers Stone - Patty Duke
Benjamin Stone - Bob Gunton
Carlotta Campion - Donna McKechnie

2002 Royal Festival Hall Production
Cast

Phyllis Rogers Stone - Louise Gold
Benjamin Stone - David Durham
Sally Durant Plummer - Kathryn Evans
Buddy Plummer - Henry Goodman
Young Phyllis - Kerry Jay
Young Ben - Hugh Maynard
Young Sally - Emma Clifford
Young Buddy - Matthew Cammelle
Stella Deems - Shezwae Powell
Hattie Walker - Joan Savage
Carlotta Campion - Diane Langton

2006 London Production
Cast

Sally Durant Plummer - Claire Moore
Young Sally - Nova Skipp
Stella Deems - Carol Ball
Heidi Schiller - Roni Page
Roscoe - Ian Dring
Hattie Walker - Rachel Izen
Emily Whitman - Helen Watson
Theodore Whitman - Paul Tate
Solange LaFitte - Anne Smith
Carlotta Campion - Adele Anderson(pictured)





2007 Encores! Concerts

Cast

Phyllis Rogers Stone - Donna Murphy
Benjamin Stone - Victor Garber
Sally Durant Plummer - Victoria Clark
Buddy Plummer - Michael McGrath
Carlotta Campion - Christine Baranski

AND NOW, ONCE AGAIN, ON BROADWAY!ELAINE PAIGE
Carlotta Campion

Elaine Paige, actress, recording artist, concert performer, producer and broadcaster, Olivier Award winner and five-time nominee, created the role of Eva Peron in Evita and thereafter created the roles of Grizabella in Cats (the song "Memory" becoming her signature) and Florence in Chess. Further productions include Sunset Blvd (London/New York); Anything Goes; Piaf; The King & I and Sweeney Todd (Drama Desk nomination). Elaine has recorded 26 albums, received an OBE for services to Musical Theater and presents a weekly BBC Radio 2 program Elaine Paige On Sunday. www.elainepaige.com

It's not just Carlotta, FOLLIES IS STILL HERE!

I DO NOT OWN ANY RIGHTS- ONLY POSTING. For Entertinment Purposes ONLY

I thank all the artists mentioned in this blog for the gifts they have given us and CONTINUE to give us!
Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!


Here's to an INCREDIBLE October for ALL...with NO challenges!
Now, GO OUT AND DO SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE ELSE TODAY!

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Please contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING & HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS
(photo by Loren R. Javier.)


HOLD THE DATE:
Nov 28
8pm

THE TRIAD, 158 West 72nd Street
RICHARD SKIPPER CELEBRATES...JERRY HERMAN
This is the launch of a new series. For now, once a month, Richard will be celebrating a different theme. Hopes to go to weekly in January! A Benefit for Carol Channing's Foundation for the Arts. Anna Bergman, Peggy Herman, Sue Matsuki, Miles Phillips, Jana Robbins, Richard Skipper, Lee Roy Reams & others.


TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY!
Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com

1 comment:

  1. Follies was the first big,professional stage show that I ever saw. The entire original cast opened the Shubert Theater in Los Angeles. Everything changed for me because of that show. One thing that is missing from this blog is the version done by Mary Tyler Moore in one of her TV specials. She played it as an actress who had really been through the mill. Old, broken down and tired, suffering from years of abuse and neglect. Any way you slice it, it's an amazing show.
    Cheers,
    Stephan

    ReplyDelete