Magazine article The Sondheim Review

Artfully Crafted

Magazine article The Sondheim Review

Artfully Crafted

Article excerpt

Intimate Follies in Boston is a lovely homage

Director Spiro Veloudos called his production of Follies at the Lyric Stage Company of Boston (Sept. 5-Oct. 11, 2008) "the largest and most complicated in the history of the company." It was an artfully crafted show in the company's small black box theatre. Veloudos integrated a lovely homage to the characters' youthful selves with their younger ghosts miming duets behind their middle-aged counterparts in several pastiche songs. Those younger selves unveiled who the characters had been, thereby probing who the older characters are - or aren't.

The ghosts unified the Act I numbers and hearkened back to the old-time Follies shows. That resonance was amplified in Act II by the staging of the six Follies numbers, replete with stylized signs introducing each number.

Several minor characters gave spectacular performances. Kerry Dowling practically stole the show as Stella Deems. When she announced, "I am not making an ass out of myself alone," she rallied her peers and nearly the authence, belting a rousing, affirming and downright fun "Who's That Woman?"

Kathy St. George infused Solange LaFitte with glamour and zest for every grand moment. Theodore and Emily Whitman, played by Frank Aronson and Deb Poppel, were delightful as a homey couple enjoying an entertaining and carefree visit with the past. Their rendition of "Rain on the Roof" flowed as though they were reprising something they'd enjoyed for years.

The major characters were uneven. Larry Daggett as Ben Stone was pompous and stiff. Despite his rich voice, he was not credible as an esteemed attorney hosting "dinners for 10 elderly men from the U.N." Neither did his stage wife Phyllis Rogers Stone, played by Maryann Zschau, seem a socialite. Nonetheless, she was a potent Phyllis, more resigned than cynical. She ambushed everyone when her spite exploded in "Could I Leave You?"

Leigh Barrett's Sally Durant Plummer seemed flat early on, although one could imagine that was about being nervous. Her acting was strong in song, and her voice had depth and range. By the time she crooned "In Buddy's Eyes," she had fully measured the depths of her character's psyche.

As Buddy Plummer, Peter A. Carey was more schlemiel than friendly, small-town salesman. He was shallow and unlikable through Act I, but he came alive in Act II with angst, sadness, irony and energy in "The Right Girl" and "Buddy's Blues. …

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