Follies New Jersey
The last major production of Follies closed in London's West End on 4 February 1989 after 644 performances. It would be 1995 before the musical returned to a stage when Follies was staged at the Theatre Under the Stars in Houston, Texas. During the 1990's and 2000's, Follies was staged in cities across the United States, including Texas and Massachusetts. These regional revivals included one put on and produced by New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse in 1998. The production was the first full-scale revival in the New York City area since the original Broadway production of Follies 27 years earlier. Featuring an all-star cast led by Ann Miller and Donna McKechnie, the revival was critical acclaimed.
About the Production
Follies opened at the Paper Mill Playhouse on 15 April 1998, with the final show performed on 31 May 1998. Musical numbers for the production mirrored the original 1971 Broadway version, although the New Jersey revival featured an intermission following "Too Many Mornings". Since Dee Hoty, who portrayed Phyllis, was not a dancer, "The Story of Lucy and Jessie" was replaced by "Ah, But Underneath". Another departure from the Broadway original was "The Right Girl" being sung by Buddy and danced by Young Buddy. A full-length recording was produced from the 1998 New Jersey revival. The double CD featured the entire score as originally written and an appendix with tryout cuts from the original production.
The New Jersey cast starred Tony Award winner Donna McKechnie as Sally Durant Plummer, as well as Tony Award nominees Dee Hoty as Phyllis Rogers Stone and Laurence Guittard as Benjamin Stone. DMcKechnie would go on to play Carlotta in the Barrington Stage Company's 2005 production in Massachusettes and the 2002 Los Angeles revivial, and Phyllis in the 1998 London concert at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. The cast also featured Tony Roberts as Buddy Plummer, Kaye Ballard as Hattie Walker, Eddie Bracken as Dmitri Weismann, and Anne Miller as Carlotta Campion. Tony Award winner Phyllis Newman and French actress Liliane Montevecchi reprised the roles their roles from the 1985 production of Follies at the Lincoln Centre in New York. Newman once again played the role of Stella Deems, while Montevecchi portrayed Solange La Fitte.
Other cast members included Carol Skarimbas as Heidi Schiller, Natalie Mosco as Emily Whitman, Ann Cunningham as Christine Donovan, Laura Kenyon as Sandra Crane, Billie Thrash as Dee Dee West, Donald Saddler as Theodore Whitman, and Vahan Khanzadian as Roscoe. The cast also featured Danette Holden as Young Sally, Meredith Patterson as Young Phyllis, Jillana Urbina as Young Carlotta, Krista Lepore as Young Hattie, Pamela Jordan as Young Stella, Jean Marie as Young Solange, Ingrid Ladendorf as Young Heidi, Pascale Faye as Young Emily, Temple Kane as Young Christine, Julie Connors as Young Sandra, Karen Lifshey as Young Dee Dee, Michael Gruber as Young Ben, Billy Hartung as Young Buddy, Peter Davenport as Young Roscoe, and Arte Phillips as Young Theodore.
The New Jersey production of Follies was directed by Robert Johanson, the artistic director of the Paper Mill Playhouse. The production team also included choreographer Jerry Mitchell, winner of two Tony Awards for Best Choreography in 2005 for La Gage aux Folles and in 2013 for Kinky Boots. Michael Bennett and Bob Avian led original choreography for "Who's That Women". The production's executive producer was Angelo Del Rossie of the Paper Mill Playhouse, who was joined by associate producer Roy Miller and producer Gene R. Korf. Other members of the production team included costume designer Gregg Barnes, scenic designer Michael Anania, lighting designer Mark Stanley, sound designer Craig Cassidy, and musical directors Jim Coleman and Tom Helm.
A regional theatre, the Paper Mill Playhouse is located at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, New Jersey. With its proximity to New York City, the Paper Mill Playhouse often attracts actors and theatregoers from Manhattan and houses major theatre productions. The theatre was built on the site of a former paper mill, which traced its roots to the 18th century. The Paper Mill Playhouse opened in November 1938 with a production of The Kingdom of God by Martinez Sierra. Gutted by a fire in 1980, the theatre was rebuilt in 1982. The 1,200-seat theatre was designated as the official State Theatre of New Jersey in 1972. Since 1971, the Paper Mill Playhouse has also been the home of the New Jersey Ballet.