COMMUNITY THEATER – Village Players
FOLLIES, Stephen Sondheim’s classic musical.
Sept. 16, 17, 23, 24, 30, Oct. 1 at 8 p.m.; Sept. 25 & Oct. 2 at 2 p.m.
The musical FOLLIES opens the 89th season of Village Players on September 16. The renowned community theater, which likes to call itself “Birmingham’s best live theater,” is an appropriate venue for this Stephen Sondheim classic.
FOLLIES is all about theater. It takes place at the 1971 reunion of performers of the great Follies shows of the past. The occasion is the closing and demolition of the theater where they performed. Musical theater is used as a metaphor for life. Follies were the shows, but they were also are the foolish undertakings of life.
Youthful performers of the past are “reunited” with the people they have become. Sondheim, who won fame first as a lyricist, used FOLLIES to mark his decision to write both lyrics and music for all of his future shows. And the music is wonderfully reminiscent of the music of the past. But it is also the music of the future, the music of Sondheim. Music director Dennis Penney of Royal Oak helps bring that music to life.
Surprisingly, Stage Director Susie Skibicki, a Bloomfield Twp. resident, has never seen a production of FOLLIES. But “I am a huge Stephen Sondheim fan.” She says that after directing INTO THE WOODS, “I was eager to experience the wonders of being immersed in another Sondheim musical. FOLLIES has beautiful music and is the most melodic Sondheim has written to date.”
As the various aspects of musical theater and life are explored, the plot concentrates on two couples who attend the reunion. Each of the women was a Follies performer. Their husbands are the men who courted them when they were young. The audience gets glimpses of the young people they were, but concentrates on the people they have become.
The character Sally, played by Becky Fisher of Birmignham, is a disillusioned former ingenue. Her husband Buddy, played by Steve Tadevic of Hazel Park, still adores her, but thinks that he and his marriage are failures. The other couple is not happy either. Phyllis, played by Sue Mancuso of Bloomfield Twp., is a brittle sophisticate, who tolerates her unloving husband Ben, played by Randall Wrisinger of Huntington Woods.
Each of these roles is demanding. Steve Tadevic who first saw FOLLIES years ago says that “Before I ever stepped on a community theater stage in Michigan, I wanted to play Buddy some day.”
Before the play ends, there is a re-creation of one of the extravaganzas of an earlier time, designed to thrill the audience in memories of times past. The play ends, however, in the reality of the present.
Picture: (left to right) Steve Tadevic of Hazel Park, Becky Fisher of Birmingham, Sue Mancuso of Bloomfield Twp., Randall Wrisinger of Huntington Woods.