Why do I go to theatre? To be moved, and even inspired… by what I do for sure, but also by life.
Follies is one of those shows that functions on both levels for me. It is one of the most beautiful musicals of our time. It’s also wrapped up in so many memories for me that seeing produced so gorgeously on the stage of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater is a gift. You all know one of those die-hard Sondheim Fans – they can sing “I’m Still Here” for you – but can they say they have really seen FOLLIES? Unless they have seen this show, they have not truly experienced Sondheim and his love for the business, performers he works with, and his understanding of people and their journey through life.
For me FOLLIES was one of the shows that solidified my career. I was lucky to have worked on the production that was done, to rave reviews, at the Candlelight Playhouse over 30 years ago. It taught me so many things, the first being that masterpieces that don’t necessarily turn into big hits on Broadway can and often are embraced in Chicago. Secondly, no one should ever talk down to or underestimate their audiences; lavish them with the most sophisticated and brilliant theatre and they will go on to be life-long theatre-goers. And third, work is life in the theatre as I remember so vividly auditioning for the cast of FOLLIES in New York with my husband and his business partner, Director Bill Pullinsi. It was August 6, 1980, the first anniversary of my marriage to Tony D’Angelo, and we were in our hotel room reviewing all the pictures and resumes from the day, balancing some NY talent with the fabulous Chicago performers available. Bill said to Tony and I:
“You don’t really want to be alone on your Anniversary – do you? Of course not, I will order room service for all of us and we can finish our casting!”
That night and this show reminds me that a life in the theatre is your life – and a grand one at that!