Primary tabs

Sondheim’s Follies Coming to the Alcazar

August 27, 2018

Good times and bum times,
I’ve seen them all and, my dear,
I’m still here.
Plush velvet sometimes,
Sometimes just pretzels and beer,
But I’m here.
I’ve stuffed the dailies
In my shoes.
Strummed ukuleles,
Sung the blues,
Seen all my dreams disappear,
But I’m here.

Carlotta’s “I’m Still Here” is just one song in a score of great, unforgettable numbers in Stephen Sondheim’s Follies, which 42nd Street Moon is presenting in a concert version on Sept. 7 and 8 in the Alcazar Theater.

Sondheim’s most memorable music and lyrics run through “The Road You Didn’t Take,” “In Buddy’s Eyes,” “Too Many Mornings,” “The Right Girl,” “One More Kiss,” “Who’s That Woman?” and more.

42nd Street Moon’s Daren A.C. Carollo says he is on a “personal mission to direct and/or produce the entire [Sondheim] canon.”

Even before Carollo and Daniel Thomas take over as executive directors of 42nd Street Moon, the company produced A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Do I Hear a Waltz. More recently, they presented Saturday Night. “I predict we will be producing a lot more Sondheim in the future,” Carollo says, “after all, he is America’s greatest musical-theater composer.”

He calls Follies “a rarely produced gem because of how massive and expensive the show is. None of the major productions recouped their initial investments.”

Taking place on the soon-to-be demolished stage of the once-palatial Weismann Theater, a reunion is being held to honor the Weismann’s “Follies” shows past, and the beautiful chorus girls who performed there every year between the two World Wars. The theater is now bare scaffolding as the ghosts of the showgirls slowly drift through the stage in spectacular costumes and their present-day selves enter for their “first and last reunion.”

Although the Alcazar Theater — built in 1917 as a Shriner’s Temple in the style of Alhambra’s Arabian architecture — could serve as the proper venue to a play about a follies theater of the early 20th century, set and costumes will have to be imagined this time.

Carollo describes the 42nd Street Moon budget-minded approach to staging the show:
Our production is in concert, with simple staging, some choreography, no scenery/props/costumes. We have a huge orchestra and an awesome group of storytellers.

Our concert version will have all of heart, despair, desire, and bitterness that a fully produced production has — without the $150 ticket price. I relate to all of the human struggles these characters are going through: falling for the wrong lover at the wrong time in your life, taking the wrong path, missing the audience’s applause, losing our looks, and so many other deep feelings and experiences.

We held no auditions or callbacks for these roles. I hand-picked the cast from a list of my favorite Bay Area actors. These are actors I have admired for years, some for decades. Their voices and their acting chops make them perfect for these roles. There is not one weak link. Daniel [Thomas] hand-picked our 25-piece orchestra. We guarantee these instrumentalists will blow you away.

The huge cast features Diana Torres Koss as “Sally Durant Plummer,” Derrick Silva as “Buddy Plummer,” Chris Vettel as “Benjamin Stone,” Ann Marie Martin as “Phyllis Rogers Stone,” Melissa WolfKlain as “Young Sally,” Danila Burshteyn as “Young Buddy,” Nikita Burshteyn as “Young Ben,” Josselyn O’Neill as “Young Phyllis,” Anita Viramontes as “Stella Deems,” Stephanie Prentice as “Carlotta Campion,” Marcia Hetzler as “Heidi Schiller,” Darlene Popovic as “Hattie Walker,” John Hetzler as “Dimitri Weismann,” DC Scarpelli as “Emily Whitman,” Peter Budinger as “Theodore Whitman,” John Brown as “Rosco,” Amanda Johnson as “Young Heidi” and Stephanie Rhoads as “Solange LaFitte.”

Carollo directs the show, with Thomas as music director, and Rick Wallace the choreographer. The running time is one hour and 40 minutes, with no intermission.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].