The classic showbiz breakdown musical Follies is coming back to Broadway, complete with its luscious and witty Sondheim score.
There are no fewer than four showstopping numbers for women in the musical.
Your faves in order?
Here are mine:
(4) “Could I Leave You?“
Phyllis — played by Jan Maxwell in the new production — glides through this sardonic tune about whether she’ll leave her husband for a variety of reasons (“passionless lovemaking once a year” seems to be at the top of the list) or whether she’s left him already.
An icy, zingy stinger of a song — and that ending: “Guess!”
(3) “Broadway Baby“
Hattie relives her greasy-spoon-frequenting days of learning how to sing and dance, all in the name of sticking it till her name’s in lights and she’s a great big Broadway star!
Whether done earnestly or deadpan, the song delivers, right up to the “working for a nice man like a Ziegfeld or a Weismann” finish. No matter who’s singing it, I always want to give them a job at the end.
(2) “Losing My Mind“
Sally regrets a long-ago breakup, so she serves up a first-rate crack-up.
“Not going left, not going right” … we’ve all been there!
This is one of the great regret songs, and it’s absolutely luxurious in its melodic self-laceration.
Dorothy Collins sang it in the original production, then Liza did a techno version with the Pet Shop Boys, and now Bernadette Peters gets to lose her mind.
(1) “I’m Still Here“
No, wait, this isn’t the best showstopper from Follies. It’s the best show tune ever written!
It’s dark, triumphant, self-glorifying, pained, funny, and moving, as it recounts the character’s multi-decade ups and downs.
Best verse: “First you’re another sloe-eyed vamp / Then someone’s mother, then you’re camp …”
Elaine Paige gets to sing it on Broadway — and she’s here! Look who’s here! She’s still here!
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 1, 2011