Follies - Analysis

Analysis

Hal Prince said: "Follies examines obsessive behavior, neurosis and self-indulgence more microscopically than anything I know of." Bernadette Peters quoted Sondheim on the character of "Sally": "He said early on that is off balance, to put it mildly. He thinks she’s very neurotic, and she is very neurotic, so he said to me, 'Congratulations. She’s crazy.'" Martin Gottfried wrote: "The concept behind 'Follies' is theater nostalgia, representing the rose-colored glasses through which we face the fact of age ... the show is conceived in ghostliness. At its very start, ghosts of Follies showgirls stalk the stage, mythic giants in winged, feathered, black and white opulence. Similarly, ghosts of Twenties shows slip through the evening as the characters try desperately to regain their youth through re-creations of their performances and inane theater sentiments of their past."

Joanne Gordon, author and Chair and Artistic Director, Theatre, at California State University ]) wrote "Follies is in part an affectionate look at the American musical theater between the two World Wars and provides Sondheim with an opportunity to use the traditional conventions of the genre to reveal the hollowness and falsity of his characters' dreams and illusions. The emotional high generated by the reunion of the Follies girls ultimately give way to anger, disappointment, and a weary resignation to reality." "Follies contains two scores: the Follies pastiche numbers and the book numbers." Some of the Follies numbers imitate the style of particular composers of the early 20th century: Losing My Mind is in the style of a George Gershwin ballad "The Man I Love". Sondheim noted that the song "The God-Why-Don't-You-Love-Me Blues" is "another generic pastiche: vaudeville music for chases and low comics, but with a patter lyric...I tried to give it the sardonic knowingness of Lorenz Hart or Frank Loesser."

"Loveland", the final musical sequence, (that "consumed the last half-hour of the original" production) is akin to a 1920s Ziegfeld Follies sequence, with Sally, Phyllis, Ben and Buddy performing "like comics and torch singers from a Broadway of yore." "Loveland" features a string of vaudeville-style numbers, reflecting the leading characters' emotional problems, before returning to the theatre for the end of the reunion party. The four characters are "whisked into a dream show in which each acts out his or her own principal 'folly'".

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