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2018 Follies Cast Recording now available at the NT Bookshop

Follies

Following the final performance of Follies in the Olivier on 11 May, the National Theatre announces the CD release of Stephen Sondheim’s legendary musical Follies – 2018 National Theatre Cast Recording this Friday, 17 May.

Following its 2018 Olivier Award wins for Best Musical Revival and Best Costume Design and a sold out run at the National Theatre, this critically acclaimed production of Follies releases its much-anticipated London Cast Recording. Including musical hits such as I’m Still HereBroadway Baby and Losing My Mind.

Follies tells the story of the former performers of Weismann’s Follies, reunited for the first time in their theatre which is to be demolished the next day. Thirty years after their final performance, the Follies girls gather to have a few drinks, sing a few songs and lie about themselves.

Director of Follies and Associate of the National Theatre Dominic Cooke said:

“Directing Follies has been a privilege. It is a heart-breaking, universal piece and the National Theatre committed epic resources to realise it. The original company gave detailed, powerful performances and I’m delighted that we managed to record them for listeners to appreciate Stephen Sondheim’s peerless score, just as I was working with an equally brilliant cast on the Olivier revival.”

FOLLIES – 2018 National Theatre Cast Recording was recorded at RAK Studios in London with world-renowned producer Nigel Wright, conducted by Olivier Nominee Nigel Lilley and mixed by SMP Studios, Buckinghamshire. The soundtrack cast includes Julie Armstrong, Norma Attallah, Josephine Barstow, Jeremy Batt, Tracie Bennett, Di Botcher, Billy Boyle, Janie Dee, Anouska Eaton, Liz Ewing, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Peter Forbes, Emily Goodenough, Bruce Graham, Adrian Grove, Fred Haig, Aimee Hodnett, Dawn Hope, Liz Izen, Alison Langer, Emily Langham, Sarah-Marie Maxwell, Ian McLarnon, Leisha Mollyneux, Gemma Page, Kate Parr, Philip Quast, Edwin Ray, Gary Raymond, Adam Rhys-Charles, Jordan Shaw, Imelda Staunton, Zizi Strallen, Barnaby Thompson, Christine Tucker, Michael Vinsen and Alex Young.

FOLLIES Track Listing

  1. Prologue
  2. Beautiful Girls
  3. Don’t Look At Me
  4. Waiting For The Girls Upstairs
  5. Rain On The Roof / Ah, Paris! / Broadway Baby (Medley)
  6. The Road You Didn’t Take
  7. In Buddy’s Eyes
  8. Who’s That Woman?
  9. I’m Still Here
  10. Too Many Mornings
  11. The Right Girl
  12. One More Kiss
  13. Could I Leave You?
  14. Loveland
  15. You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow / Love Will See Us Through (Medley)
  16. Buddy’s Blues
  17. Losing My Mind
  18. The Story Of Lucy and Jessie
  19. Live, Laugh, Love
  20. End of Show

FOLLIES – 2018 National Theatre Cast Recording is also available across digital download and streaming accounts now. Download and streaming link can be found HERE.

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Bill Deamer: ‘We are not doing a carbon copy; that was that production of Follies and this is a new production of Follies.’

Follies

Choreographer Bill Deamer enters the room. ‘Hello!’ he says cheerily.

Bill Deamer is one of Britain’s leading song and dance men for theatre, film and TV. Last year he bagged himself an Olivier nomination for Best Theatre Choreographer for Follies

Now Dominic Cooke’s production of Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s masterpiece, is back at the National Theatre. We are talking in the interview room backstage at the National Theatre and Deamer has just been giving notes to the cast of Follies. ‘We now have to let them take the show and run with it,’ he says.

The 2019 Follies Company with Bill Deamer

The 2019 Follies Company with Bill Deamer

It’s tricky, Deamer explains, to reimagine a critically acclaimed musical for the Olivier stage with new cast members in just over a month, yet they have cleared that obstacle with breath-taking ease. ‘We’ve only had four weeks rehearsal whereas we had 9 originally. What you can’t do when you recast is assume the energy is going to be the same.’

It’s not only the cast that has changed since the 2017 production, however. The ensemble brings glorious new touches to the big number choreography; particularly the Mirror Mirror number, in which Dawn Hope leads the cast through a show-stopping musical theatre extravaganza.

FOLLIES 2.0

FOLLIES 2.0

Rehearsals must have been full-on? ‘To learn and create and become the Follies company in four weeks was a tall order, Deamer says. ‘The actors are different, we are not doing a carbon copy; that was that production of Follies and this is a new production of Follies. We’ve looked at certain concepts and developed them even more. The ghosts and how they are in contact with and interact with their older selves have all been developed.’

‘There’s a moment at the beginning of the show, during the Overture and all of a sudden the ghosts realise that they are back and they all gesture to the front,’ he continues. ‘There’s so much power in it, it gives me Gooseflesh talking about it.’

During a recent preview an audience member took a photograph of Joanna Riding performing as her voice cracked during the last lines of Losing My Mind. Follies’ Associate Director, Josh Seymour tweeted his dismay.

He winces when I mention it. ‘Good job Imelda wasn’t there!’ he says. ‘I can’t believe that during one of the most sensitive parts of the show somebody actually pulls a camera out to take a photograph – with a flash on. It’s absurd. Why do people do it? It’s so rude – it is disrespectful to the actors and it disrespectful to the audience.’

Should they have been ejected? ‘Yes.’ Deamer says bemused.

Were they? ‘No. It was such a subtle part of the show it would have disturbed things more to chuck them out,’ he says.

‘I think we all talk about audience etiquette and audience behaviour but it is not made clear enough – when you are recording for TV you hand your phones in. Maybe that is the way to go? I just don’t know.’

We discuss the mythical Follies 2018 Cast Recording that has just finally been released. ‘I’ve heard all of the various productions of Follies that have been recorded and they all have their merits. I think the quality of all of the vocals are quite extraordinary – Stephen Sondheim’s music and Jonathan Tunick’s arrangement just come to life.’

Alexander Hanson and Joanna Riding credit: Johan-Persson

Alexander Hanson and Joanna Riding credit: Johan-Persson

Does he have a favourite? ‘I have to say that Too Many Mornings breaks my heart; the woodwind, the obo – that wonderful sound. There is something in it that just moves me completely. Hearing Phillip (Quast) and Imelda (Staunton) sing it together is quite extraordinary,’ Deamer says.

The ghosts of those former cast certainly loom over the return of Follies; there are some big tap-shoes to fill. Now though, replacing Staunton as Sally is Joanna Riding and Alexander Hanson takes on the role of Ben. ‘Joanna and Alex are so completely different from their predecessors,’ Deamer says.

‘Jo is so different from Imelda – you couldn’t say that one is better than another; they are completely different. Alex brings such pathos to Ben. I have my amazing memories of working with Imelda and Phillip and now I have my memories of working with Jo and Alex.’

Dawn Hope Stella and the company National Theatre credit: Johan Persson

Dawn Hope Stella and the company National Theatre credit: Johan Persson

‘They are quite wonderful because Dominic and I have worked hard with them and it is all based as it was originally: the director, the designer, the choreographer and the music, we all work as one. So, we had that strength in the rehearsal room.’

Deamer has been a consistently working choreographer for over twenty-five years. His first Olivier nomination was for the critically acclaimed production of The Boy Friend that opened at Regents Park Open Air Theatre in 2006. He has beavered away across theatre, film and television winning an Olivier Award as Best Choreographer in 2013 for Top Hat, as a musical theatre and Charleston specialist for Strictly Come Dancing.

Bill Deamer and Carl Woodward

Bill Deamer and Carl Woodward

He never stops.

The last thing Deamer wants is to be thought of as, he stresses, a one-style  choreographer. ‘People assume I just do the old-fashioned stuff- which drives me insane. Actually, it is not old fashioned, it is classic. I’ve got Saturday Night Fever out on tour at the moment. I have a production of Evita that’s toured for 11 years around Europe out on the road.’

‘I’m a fully trained dancer and a musical theatre choreographer,’ he shrugs. ‘I trained in classical dance and ballet and jazz and indeed if anyone knows my work on TV with Strictly. For me, pigeonholing any artist is just nonsense.’

Dominic Cooke (Director) and Bill Deamer (Choreographer) in rehearsal for Follies at

Dominic Cooke (Director) and Bill Deamer (Choreographer) in rehearsal for Follies 

What advice does he have for aspiring choreographers? ‘The first thing that I say to any performer is: learn your craft. Get your technique – without that you will not survive. Too many dancers are jack of all trades and master of none and quite simply, it isn’t going to work.’

Our time has come to an end and it’s time for Bill to go.

‘I’m very luck to do what I do – I have worked for it and I’ve learnt my trade. It is wonderful to work with such brilliantly diverse people and create theatre – it feels like such a privilege to be able to work on the various projects that I do; when it doesn’t, I won’t do it,’ he concludes. The words are spoken without a hint of mawkishness, only sincerity. It is all he knows.

Follies is at the Oliver, London until 11 May.

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First Look: Rehearsal images released for Follies

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Full cast announced for FOLLIES at National Theatre

After a sold-out run, Follies returns to the NT in 2019. Stephen Sondheim’s legendary musical includes such classic songs as ‘Broadway Baby’, ‘I’m Still Here’ and ‘Losing My Mind’. Featuring a cast of 40 and an orchestra of 21, Follies is directed by Dominic CookeTracie Bennett, Janie Dee and Peter Forbes return to reprise their roles, with Alexander Hanson and Joanna Riding joining the cast as Ben and Sally.

The Follies 2019 cast includes Julie Armstrong (Christine Donovan), Lindsay Atherton (Young Carlotta), Josephine Barstow (Heidi Schiller from mid-April until the end of the run), Rosanna Bates (Young Emily), Jeremy Batt (Young Theodore), Tracie Bennett (Carlotta Campion), Billy Boyle (Theodore Whitman), Kaye Brown (Ensemble), Janie Dee (Phyllis Rogers Stone), Anouska Eaton (Young Deedee), Liz Ewing (Ensemble), Vanessa Fisher (Young Stella), Caroline Fitzgerald (Sandra Crane), Geraldine Fitzgerald (Solange LaFitte), Peter Forbes (Buddy Plummer), Bruce Graham (Roscoe), Adrian Grove (Sam Deems), Alexander Hanson (Ben Stone), Alyn Hawke (Ensemble), Harry Hepple (Young Buddy), Aimee Hodnett (Young Sandra), Dawn Hope (Stella Deems), Liz Izen (Deedee West), Jasmine Kerr (Ensemble), Alison Langer (Young Heidi), Felicity Lott (Heidi Schiller from 22 February until mid-April), Sarah-Marie Maxwell (Young Solange), Ian McIntosh (Young Ben), Ian McLarnon (Ensemble), Claire Moore (Hattie Walker), Tom Partridge(Ensemble), Gary Raymond (Dimitri Weismann), Michael Remick (Ensemble), Rohan Richards (Kevin), Joanna Riding (Sally Durant Plummer), Lisa Ritchie (Young Hattie), Myra Sands (Emily Whitman), Gemma Sutton (Young Sally), Monica Swayne (Young Christine), Christine Tucker (Young Phyllis) and Liam Wrate (Chorus/Swing).

Follies is designed by Vicki Mortimer, with choreography by Bill Deamer, musical supervision by Nicholas Skilbeck, orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, additional orchestrations by Josh Clayton, musical director Nigel Lilley, lighting design by Paule Constable and sound designer by Paul Groothuis.

Watch Tracie Bennett’s performance of ‘I’m Still Here’ from Follies at the 2018 Olivier Awards ceremony, captured live at the Royal Albert Hall in the video below:

Supported by the Follies production syndicate.

Exclusive crystal provider for Follies

Talks and Events

A Short History of Stephen Sondheim’s work – 26 February, 6pm

Developing Musical Theatre (in partnership with the Genesis Foundation) – 7 March, 6pm

Making Follies: Wigs, Hair and Makeup – 14 March, 6pm

Follies actors in conversation – 15 March, 3pm

The Making of Follies – 19 March, 10am

Making Follies – costumes and headdresses – 25 March, 6pm

Designing Follies with Vicki Mortimer – 29 March, 5pm

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Talks and events for FOLLIES at the National Theatre

FOLLIES © Johan Persson

Join the cast of Follies as they discuss appearing in the sold-out National Theatre production, directed by Dominic CookePeter Forbes and Imelda Staunton will be in conversation with director Paulette Randall, and Josephine Barstow and Tracie Bennett with singer-songwriter and actor Will Young.

There is now limited ticket availability for Follies with tickets available to buy through Friday Rush purchasable online every Friday from 1pm for the following week’s performances. Day tickets are also available in person from the NT box office. The production will be broadcast live to cinemas worldwide as part of NT Live on Thursday 16 NovemberFind your nearest venue here.

Peter Forbes and Imelda StauntonMon 11 Dec, 3pm

The actors reflect on the challenges and rewards of playing Buddy and Sally in Follies, chaired by Paulette Randall.

Peter Forbes’ theatre credits include Mamma Mia! (West End), Black Watch (National Theatre of Scotland), and for NT, Never So GoodThe James PlaysOur Country’s GoodAfterlife and The Observer. Multi award-winning actor Imelda Staunton was seen on screen as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films, and has a long performance history at the National Theatre including The Beggar’s OperaGuys and Dolls, and A Chorus of Disapproval.

Josephine Barstow and Tracie BennettMon 18 Dec, 3pm

Will Young chairs a discussion with Tracie Bennett and Josephine Barstow about appearing in Follies.

Josephine Barstow has performed in opera houses across the world alongside artists such as Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, and under the baton of Georg Solti and Herbert von Karajan. Tracie Bennett originated the roles of Laura Henderson in Mrs Henderson Presents, Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow and has won Olivier awards for her performances in She Loves Me and Hairspray.

Tickets to both events are £7 (£5 concessions) and can be booked here.

Other upcoming talks and events relating to Follies include:

In Depth: The Works of Stephen Sondheim        Fri 3 and 24 November10.30am – 4.30pm

Staging Sondheim’s Follies                                   Tues 28 Nov, 10.30am – 3.30pm

History of the Ziegfeld Follies                                Fri 24 Nov, 6pm

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First Look: Production Images: FOLLIES at the National Theatre

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First Look: Rehearsal Images: Sondheim’s FOLLIES at the National Theatre

Full Casting Announcement for Follies, book by James Goldman, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and direction by Dominic Cooke

Follies
Follies

Follies

1971, New York. There’s a party on the stage of the Weismann Theatre. Tomorrow the iconic building will be demolished. Thirty years after their final performance, the Follies girls gather to have a few drinks, sing a few songs and lie about themselves. Including such classic songs as Broadway Baby, I’m Still Here and Losing My Mind, Stephen Sondheim’s legendary musical is staged for the first time at the NT. Tracie Bennett, Janie Dee and Imelda Staunton play the magnificent Follies in this dazzling new production. Featuring a cast of 37 and an orchestra of 21, the production is directed by Dominic Cooke (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom).

Director Dominic Cooke said:

“Sondheim is one of the great innovators of modern theatre. Everything he has written breaks new ground thematically and finds a fresh form to express it. His restless, questing spirit defines, for me, what it means to be an artist. I love Follies for its iconic score, brutal honesty and psychological accuracy. It depicts a profound crisis and that most American of themes: the question for authenticity in a world of illusion.

For this production we have put together a book mainly drawn from original 1971 text with some additions from later rewrites. We have brought together an incredible cast and a top notch team. I can’t wait to get started.”

Winner of Academy, Tony, Grammy and Olivier awards, Sondheim’s previous work at the NT includes A Little Night Music,Sweeney Todd and Sunday in the Park with George.

The cast includes Julie Armstrong (Sandra Crane), Norma Attallah (Emily Whitman), Josephine Barstow (Heidi Schiller), Jeremy Batt (Chorus Boy) Tracie Bennett (Carlotta Campion), Di Botcher (Hattie Walker), Billy Boyle(Theodore Whitman), Janie Dee (Phyllis Rogers Stone), Anouska Eaton (Young Emily), Liz Ewing (Company), Geraldine Fitzgerald (Solange Lafitte), Peter Forbes (Buddy Plummer), Emily Goodenough (Showgirl), Bruce Graham (Roscoe),Adrian Grove (Sam Deems), Fred Haig (Young Buddy), Aimee Hodnett (Young Hattie), Dawn Hope (Stella Deems), Liz Izen (Deedee West), Alison Langer (Young Heidi), Emily Langham (Young Carlotta), Sarah-Marie Maxwell (Young Solange), Ian McLarnon (Company), Leisha Mollyneux (Young Stella), Gemma Page (Christine Donovan), Kate Parr(Young Sandra), Philip Quast (Ben Stone), Edwin Ray (Chorus Boy), Gary Raymond (Dimitri Weismann), Adam Rhys-Charles (Young Ben), Jordan Shaw (Chorus Boy), Imelda Staunton (Sally Durrant Plummer), Zizi Strallen (Young Phyllis), Barnaby Thompson (Chorus Boy), Christine Tucker (Young Deedee), Michael Vinsen (Chorus Boy) and Alex Young (Young Sally).

Follies is designed by Vicki Mortimer, with choreography by Bill Deamer, musical supervision by Nicholas Skilbeck, orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, additional orchestrations by Josh Clayton, musical director Nigel Lilley, lighting design by Paule Constable and sound designer by Paul Groothuis.

The original production of Follies premiered on Broadway in 1971, where it was nominated for eleven Tony Awards, and won seven. The show premiered in London in 1987, and has been revived around the world many times to great acclaim. This 2017 staging will be the first time the musical has been performed at the National Theatre.

FOLLIES – FULL CASTING ANNOUNCEMENT

Book by James Goldman, Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Directed by Dominic Cooke

Olivier Theatre

Previews from 22 August, Press Night 6 September

Currently booking until 4 November, additional performances to be announced. 

Supported by the Follies production syndicate.

Press Night: Wednesday 6 September

Talks and Events

Janie Dee and Philip Quast – Olivier Theatre Thursday 14 Sept, 3pm

The Future of Musical Theatre – Cottesloe Room, Friday 15 Sept, 6pm

Dominic Cooke – Olivier Theatre, Wednesday 18 October, 6pm

The Works of Stephen Sondheim – Cottesloe Room, Friday 3 November, 10.30am

Pigs and Dogs – Caryl Churchill communicates with vigour, that socially, politically and historically – we’ve got a long way to go

‘You Western-backed goats,
They forced us into slavery and killed millions. Now they want us to accept the sinfulness of homos.It shall not work.’

Pigs and Dogs at The Royal Court Theatre.

Pigs and Dogs at The Royal Court Theatre. © Alastair Muir

Both excitingly well made and strikingly formulaic. The three highly diverse leads are uniformly excellent. Sharon D Clarke is effortless in Caryl Churchill’s pertinent new play.

The title of the play is borrowed from  President Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who said, “If dogs and pigs don’t do it, why must human beings?”

Pigs and Dogs boasts fine performances and nimble direction by Dominic Cooke. It doesn’t entirely evade the issue at its core – a brief history of homophobia and anti-homosexuality laws – instead it efficiently embraces the subject. Characters collide regardless of race or gender in a thrilling fifteen minutes.

This engaging piece succeeds well at what it sets out to do: wrapping an important message in a story told by rich voices. Nevertheless, both excitingly well made and dispiritingly formulaic; the actors pace the stage. The play is substantially based on material from ‘Boy-Wives and Female-Husbands’ by Stephen O. Murray and Will Roscoe.

A riveting short which, were it fiction, might be disbelieved as dystopia. For me, Churchill communicates, with vigour, that socially, politically and historically – we’ve got a long way to go.

Cast (in alphabetical order)
Fisayo Akinade
Sharon D Clarke
Alex Hassell

Director: Dominic Cooke
Lighting Designer: Jack Williams
Sound Designed: David McDeveney
Costume Supervisor: Lucy Walshaw
Stage Manager: Caroline Meer
Dialect Coach: Hazel Holder