After seeing The Importance Of Being Earnest at Ye Olde Rose & Crown Theatre Pub a couple of weeks ago, we decided to go and see the next offering there which was ‘Follies’ – a Stephen Sondheim musical.
I went with four other lovely E17’ers and it was not a musical that any of us was familiar with. To be honest, that probably should have set our inner alarm bells ringing.
What can I say about Follies? Hmm… Actually, I’ll start with what I can say about the production. The stage and ligting were good with the space that they have; the musical arrangement was brilliant, and they sounded great; the costumes and make–up were fitting for the play. I think they did really well with what they had to work with – REALLY well. It felt a lot ‘bigger’ than the space they were actually performing in.
The general plot is that a load of old showgirls have come back for a reunion at The Weismann Theatre where they performed about 30 years before as the theatre is about to be pulled down. Two of the girls are there with their husbands who they met at the time, and the ghosts of their young selves are haunting them – stirring up old feelings and playing out what happened all those years ago. roughly – in a nutshell as far as I could make out.
Some of the performances were particularly good. I liked Weismann, Buddy and Phyllis in particular – and also the woman who was playing in a green dress and was the lead on the Mirror Song. In fact, I have to admit I LOVED the mirror song routine – where the older women were recreating the song & dance and then ‘faded’ into the background and performed alongside their younger selves. I found it quite rousing (especially the woman in the green dress!). I also quite liked the Broadway Baby song which I’m sure I’ve heard before – but thinking about it, it might have been parodied by Family Guy – I’m sure they did a Prom Night Dumpster Baby, which sounded very similar!
However, there were quite a few niggles. The main guy, playing Ben, had a great singing voice – but I found his acting extremely stilted and unbelievable. Sally was a little too screechy, both acting and singing and there were a couple of the older ones who really shouldn’t have been singing or dancing – so much that I felt a little embarrassed for them. On top of that, some of the songs felt very difficult to ‘enjoy’, and the main storyline was extremely blah. These two facts of course were of no fault of the production – and probably just more that it wasn’t to my taste.
When we came downstairs for the interval, I found that my companions were even less enthralled by the show than *I* was – so much so that they refused to go back after the interval. Personally, I hate giving up on things (and someone I spoke to did say that the second half was apparently a lot better!) and so if I had been on my own, or with people a little more, well, ‘forgiving?’, I would have gone back for the second half. But I wasn’t going to go back on my own as I wasn’t enjoying it enough to leave the people I was with, who were FAR more entertaining!
The only thing that made me uncomfortable though is that one of the staff personally came over to me to ask if we were going back up as they know me, and I had to say that we weren’t. I was mortified!! I SO hope they didn’t take offense, as it really wasn’t the fault of the production!
It’s not going to put me off seeing anything else at the Rose & Crown (or Pose & Frown as we affectionately call it), or from the same people – but it WILL make me think twice about just going along to anything.