New York City isn’t the only town with Sondheim bragging rights this summer. San Francisco Playhouse finally presents Follies after multiple pandemic-related delays, and it will be the first fully staged professional production in the city’s history.
Featuring music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by James Goldman, Follies premiered in 1971 and won seven Tony Awards (though it was snubbed for Best Musical, losing to Two Gentlemen of Verona). The New York Times called it “one of the greatest musicals ever written,” and it has long been a favorite of Sondheim aficionados.
Set in a crumbling theatre about to be demolished, stars of years past gather to reflect on their careers and relationships, framed against a haunting backdrop of their younger selves. The epic musical is known for some of Sondheim’s most soaring ballads, including “In Buddy’s Eyes” and “Losing My Mind,” along with the showstopping “I’m Still Here.”
“We are thrilled and amazed to be presenting the professional San Francisco premiere of this Sondheim classic,” said artistic director Bill English in a released statement. “More than a dazzling collection of tributes to musical styles from the first half of the 20th century, Follies is a meditation on the subject of regret, urging us to either refuse to regret or to make sure we have nothing in life to regret. It is also a profoundly feminist piece, that speaks with even greater power now than it did in 1971.”
Here’s a first look at San Francisco Playhouse’s production of Follies, running through September 10, 2022.