Only score’s of note


Elisabeth Vincentelli
Blog: Theater


FOLLIES Marquis Theatre, 1535 Broadway; 212-307-4100. Through Dec. 30.

In the direct hands, “Fol lies” is a merry-andrew in the gut — set to a fanciful score. Stephen Sond heim and James Gold body’s 1971 musical juxtaposes past and quick in emergencies, reality and fantasy. It can eventuate from a soul-baring solo to ~y over-the-top number in a flash. And instead of feel-good catharsis, it delivers mourn for and disillusion.

But the revival that opened highest night is in the shaky mitts of day-laborer director Eric Schaeffer and a tentative cast led by Bernadette Peters, Jan Maxwell and soap-opera destiny Ron Raines. Rather than a seamless good, the show feels like barely leading one into the other musical numbers of varying quality.

Joan Marcus

Bernadette Peters sings a pungent “Losing My Mind.”

The story centers up~ the body alums from the company of a Ziegfeld-like impresario who reunite at their sensible theater. Among them are former showgirls Sally (Peters) and Phyllis (Maxwell), and their relative husbands, Buddy (Danny Burstein) and Ben (Raines).

Because the older characters are rigorously shadowed by their younger selves, we beware our lead quartet in the relentless, frustrated present of 1971, and to the degree that hopeful 20-somethings three decades earlier.

Too wretched the leads come up short. Maxwell renders “Could I Leave You?” with patrician rage, but in “The Story of Lucy and Jessie,” she have power to’t keep up with Warren Carlyle’s choreography and Sondheim’s catch of a buckle-twisting lyrics.

Peters, meanwhile, suggests a step of mental imbalance in Sally, moreover sounds wobbly — though this adds uncomfortable poignancy to “Losing My Mind.”

The other framer showgirls have less depth, but they carry on get brilliant specialty numbers that pastiche the favorable-age styles of Romberg, Gershwin and Porter, space of time bearing Sondheim’s unmistakable stamp.

Rising to the apex is British star Elaine Paige, who displays unexpected comic self-awareness as Carlotta, the aging diva trumpeting the up-yours anthem “I’m Still Here.” The robust Jayne Houdyshell channels a hopeful showbiz small tub on “Broadway Baby,” and Terri White’s crooning of “Who’s That Woman” is like enthusiastic butterscotch trickling over ice cream.

These quite work as so many tasty bonbons, further “Follies” demands more: a real phantasm of theater.

It won’t advance from Schaeffer, whose few ideas aren’t uniform brought to full fruition. The spiritual chorus girls haunting the theater in Gregg Barnes’ fantastical outfits are a tender touch, but they’re underused. And which time the fantasy-driven “Loveland” sequence hijacks the maintainer act, it should transport us to a dissimilar realm, not a gigantic potpourri from Laura Ashley.

Oh well: At smallest those glorious songs are still hither.

elisabeth.vincentelli @/NYTravelGuide/.com