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Jack Rico


2011/09/12 at 12:00am

Broadway review: Follies

09.12.2011 | By |

Broadway review: Follies

It is 1971. The place is New York City and before the demolition of his landmark theater, Dimitri Weismann (David Sabin) summons his former actors and dancers to reunite and relive for one last time the glory days of his ‘Weismann Follies.’ While there, two couples (Bernadette Peters, Danny Burstein, Jan Maxwell, Ron Raines) relive the old memories of when they first met and reexamine their present lives, in particular, their marriages. It will definitely be a night they’ll never forget.

This is the interesting premise of ‘Follies,’ the James Goldman and Stephen Sondheim musical revival that leaves the stage of The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C and moves over to the brights lights of Broadway at the Marquis Theater. Before I even sat down to see it, word was out that ‘Follies’ was the show to beat headed into the Tony’s in 2012. Well, how could you argue with that after Ben Brantley from The New York Times wrote that “Follies is one of the greatest musicals ever written”. Literally that might true, but the performance I saw was far from it. It was a night of highs and lows punctuated by a shockingly and rare disappointing performance from Bernadette Peters. The iconic actress seemed narcotized and sang off-key most of the night, especially during her “show-stopping solo” – Losing My Mind. Even the best have a bad day here and there. Nevertheless, her co-stars kept the ship steady and the direction from Eric Schaeffer was solid.

Bernadette Peters

The book by James Goldman can only be described as a somber and stark take on marriage, nostalgia and growing old. The themes it takes on are unfortunately all bleak: divorce, recalling your prime and confronting your present mortality, infidelity and unwanted change. But that doesn’t mean musicals of this nature are destined for gloom and doom. No sir, shows like ‘Next To Normal’ (a depressing and demoralizing show if I ever saw one) have demonstrated that as long as the music is infectious and the performances are moving and sincere, you can be as hopeless as you want. ‘Follies’ regrettably, doesn’t compare to the latter show due to its slow, lulling pace, it’s forgettable music and unappealing characters. And perhaps if Ms. Peters delivered more of a ‘sober’ and spirited performance, my experience might have been better. Perhaps Mr. Schaeffer can offer other ways for the character of Sally to live within her. There was no question in the theater that the night belonged to Jan Maxwell who received the most thunderous applauses of the night along with Elaine Paige who gave a delightful and charismatic supporting performance. They unequivocally eclipsed Ms. Peters right off the stage. There was nothing absolutely memorable of her interpretation except her name.

I would catalog the first act of the program as a blend of heartbreak, cynicism and humanity. Some of the numbers and characters weren’t necessary and I would say some of it bogged down the production. The second act is the one worth seeing due to the colorful and visual dreamscape sequences, lively choreography and some emotional performances. Overall, what really stood out to me was the remarkable lighting design of Natasha Katz which introduced the younger versions of the elderly showgirls in a beautiful and inventive way. It was a treat to see to see how the stars stayed in color light while their ghosts were lit in blues and greens.

Jan Maxwell

There are some crowd pleasing numbers to look forward to such as the nostalgic opening number, ‘Beautiful Girls,’ the vivacious ‘Who’s That Woman,’ Elaine Paige’s inspiring solo ‘I’m Still Here’ and Jan Maxwell’s vengeful ‘Could I Leave You’ and her sassy and sensual ‘The Story of Lucy and Jesse’.

Inside the Marquis Theater, Derek McLane’s gray and dilapidated drapes blanket the whole auditorium while the stage design offers an authentic feel of a historic place ready to say its goodbyes.

On a curious note, if you see Mr. Raines forgetting his line towards the end of his solo act, ‘Live, Love, Laugh,’ it is intentional and part of the act. Don’t go thinking you saw a ‘live’ error.

Schaeffer’s ‘Follies’ is in concept engrossing, but alas, it possesses challenges that don’t translate to a great night out nor the best of the Sondheim collection.

Mack Chico


2008/09/08 at 12:00am

‘Bangkok Dangerous’ bombs at the box office

09.8.2008 | By |

'Bangkok Dangerous' bombs at the box office

Less than a year after starring in the biggest movie of his volatile career, Nicolas Cage led the North American box office to its worst weekend in five years on Sunday with one of his weakest.

Bangkok Dangerous,” a thriller in which the 44-year-old actor plays a jaded assassin, opened at No. 1 with estimated three-day earnings of just $7.8 million, distributor Lionsgate said. While no one was expecting it to be a hit, industry observers had predicted it would earn more than $10 million.

The last box office champ to open lower was the David Spade comedy “Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star,” which kicked off with $6.7 million during the weekend of September 5-7, 2003.

Overall ticket sales also fell to their lowest level since then, said tracking firm Media By Numbers. The top 12 films earned $51.6 million, up from $50.5 million that weekend.

Early September is traditionally a quiet time at the box office since the summer blockbuster season is over. The studios spend the early fall quietly dumping their underperforming movies on the market. “Bangkok Dangerous” was the only new wide release this weekend.

Lionsgate, a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp, said it was happy with the film’s opening and expected it to be profitable. Although the movie reportedly cost $45 million to make, Lionsgate acquired U.S. and Canadian rights for a modest sum from “The Departed” producer Graham King’s Initial Entertainment Group.

The film is a remake of the 1999 Thai film of the same name, with both being directed by Hong Kong-born twin brothers Danny and Oxide Pang. The remake was not screened in advance for critics, which is rarely a good sign.

Cage has actually done a lot worse at the box office: His terrorism thriller “Next” opened to $7.1 million in April 2007 and the family drama “The Weather Man” to $4.2 million in 2005. But he was last in theaters with the biggest movie of his career, “National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” The action sequel opened to $45 million in December on its way to $220 million.

After three weeks at No. 1, DreamWorks/Paramount’s Hollywood satire “Tropic Thunder” slipped to No. 2 with $7.5 million, while Columbia Pictures’ comedy “The House Bunny” rose one to No. 3 with $5.9 million in its third week. Their respective tallies stand at $97 million and $37 million.

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