Before Follies premiered on Broadway, it was showcased at Boston's Colonial Theatre. The tryout performances in 1971 were staged at the city's historic Colonial Theatre. The musical about a struggling theatre would return to Massachusetts in 2005. The popular off-Broadway revival of Follies was put on by the Barrington Stage Company, a regional theatre company based in Western Massachusetts.
1971 Pre-Broadway Tryout
Prior to its debut at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York City, Follies had its pre-Broadway tryout in Boston, Massachusetts. Performances were staged from 20 February to 20 March 1971 in advance of the musical's Broadway premiere on 4 April 1971. The production featured the same team and cast as the Broadway show, including directors Harold Prince and Michael Bennett, who also served as the choreographer. The production team also included scenic designer Boris Aronson, costumer designer Florence Klotz, and lightening designer Tharon Musser.
The Boston cast included Dorothy Collins as Sally Durant Plummer, Alexis Smith as Phyllis Rogers Stone, John McMartin as Benjamin Stone, and Gene Nelson as Buddy Plummer. Other performers were Fifi D'Orsay as Solange La Fitte, Justine Johnston as Heidi Schiller, Mary McCarty as Stella Deems, John J. Martin as Max Deems, Arnold Moss as Dimitri Weissmann, Ethel Shutta as Hattie Walker, Marcie Stringer as Emily Whitman, and Charles Welsh as Theodore Whitman.
The venue for the pre-Broadway tryout was the Colonial Theatre, the oldest continually-operating theatre in the city. Opened in 1900, the theatre's first production was a performance of Ben-Hur. Located at 106 Boyston Street on Boston Common, the theatre has a capacity for 1,700 spectators. It has been rebuilt twice in its history, in 1960 and again in 1995. The Colonial Theatre has a strong tradition of housing touring Broadway shows, as well as previews and tryouts prior to entertaining theatregoers in Manhattan.
Follies returned to Massachusetts in the summer of 2005. The musical was revived by the Barrington Stage Company, with performances held in June and July. Following previews on 23 June 2005, the musical ran from 26 June to 16 July 2005. The production was directed by Julianne Boyd, the artistic director and co-founder of the theatre company in 1995. Lara Teeter, who also served as a principal cast member, was the production's choreographer. Set design was by Michael Anania, costume design by Alejo Vietti, lighting by Scott Pinkney and D. Benjamin Courtney, and sound by Randy Hansen. Darren Cohen served as the musical director. The production used the script from the 2001 Roundabout Broadway revival version rather than the 1971 version, although "The Right Girl" was presented as the original.
The Barrington Stage Company's production of Follies was housed at the company's original home, Thomas A. Consolati Performing Arts Center at the Mount Everett High School in Sheffield, Massachusetts. Located at 491 Bershire School Road, the theatre continues to serve as a venue for the Barrington Stage Company. The company has been based at the 530-seat Mainstage Theatre since 2005. Once the home of the Union Square Theatre and the Berkshire Public Theatre, the theatre is now known as the Berkshire Musical Hall. It is located at 30 Union Street in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
The 2005 revival of Follies featured cast members Kim Crosby as Sally Durant Plummer, Leslie Denniston as Phyllis Rogers Stone, Jeff McCarthy as Benjamin Stone, Lara Teeter as Buddy Plummer, Joy Franz as Solange La Fitte, Emmy and Grammy Award winner Marni Nixon as Heidi Schiller, and Donna McKechnie as Carlotta Campion. Tony Award winner McKenchie previously portrayed Sally in the 1998 Paper Mill Playhouse production of Follies in Millburn, New Jersey, and played the role of Phyllis in a 1996 London concert at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. She also reprised the role of Carlotta for the Los Angeles revival at the Wadsworth Theatre in June 2002. Other main cast members included Gordon Stanley as Dimitri Weissman, Diane J. Findlay as Stella Deems, and Diane Houghton as Hattie Walker.