Follies: Dances With Ghosts

The revival of Sondheim's Follies offers more extravagance than emotional grip

Bernadette Peters gets haunted.
Joan Marcus
Bernadette Peters gets haunted.


By Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman
Marquis Theatre
1535 Broadway

Eric Shaeffer's revival, moved north, with some recasting, from the Kennedy Center, fulfills only a modest number of the show's gigantic demands. There's much gaudiness and some fun but little atmosphere and less emotional grip. The two main couples, whose wispy background has always been a principal problem with Goldman's book, come off as four disconnected entities, singing their hearts out in a vacuum; Burstein's Buddy carries the most conviction. Warren Carlyle's choreography often seems remote from the sense of the numbers: He scores only one bull's-eye, with the young couples' twinned duet. For compensation, you get terrific turns by Jayne Houdyshell, Terri White, Rosalind Elias, Mary Beth Peil, Susan Watson, and Don Correia, plus an awful lot of top-drawer Sondheim. If Shaeffer doesn't create the cohesive work the authors strove for, neither did they. Like a giant seed pod spilling its gifts in every direction, Follies, as I said, is seminal, not pivotal.

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