File Size: 19255 KB
Print Length: 380 pages
Publisher: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books; Softcover edition (March 1, 2005)
Publication Date: March 1, 2005
During FOLLIES it was not unusual for shows to go into rehearsal with large sections of the screenplay (the ending, for example) marked, "To Be Composed. " (Things are not like that today. ) There are changes that happen in rehearsals, such as taking away "Losing My Mind" from Alex Smith and giving it to Dorothy Collins. (It finally worked! ) All of us see the changes that the show makes in its Boston tryout and the differences they make. There are great images of the stars in the wigs and outfits that didn't work and were discarded. We read about the dramatic changes that happen when "Can That Boy Foxtrot" gets replaced by "I'm Continue to Here" and "Uptown and Downtown" gets replaced by "Lucy and Jessie. inch Then there have been the trials of Alexis Smith shedding her voice and Gene Nelson's son becoming included in a life-threatening situation on the West Shoreline. Could the understudies go on? They've had no rehearsal at all! The cast was composed mostly of older people who had difficulty remembering lines and learning dance routines, in addition to being terrified to move on Boris Aronson's severely raked stage.
I liked all the detail that Chapin includes in the book, like what the show was just like from the orchestra pit, how the lyric sheets were punctuated, visits to the scene and costume training courses, etc. Chapin vividly offers a sizable cast of figures. I got a kick out of old Ethel Shutta getting off a few zingers at Fifi D'Orsay's expense. Early in rehearsals Yvonne DeCarlo appears to take a sparkle to young Chapin and becomes her frequent take, much to the apprehension of Hal Prince and Stephen Sondheim. Dorothy Collins supposedly told her to "Keep your hands off that nice young man. " We see Alex Smith working with everything she's got to make the show her own, all the while question that she's put very much effort into the girl career. There's a cameo by Angela Lansbury (who was trying out PRETTYBELLE in Boston while FOLLIES was there for their tryout). Lansbury asks DeCarlo after seeing a matinee if this was the girl first time on phase. DeCarlo later explains it by saying that Angie must have been in a state of shock over her own show's premature closing.
FOLLIES went on to become a landmark in the American theatre, running almost 2 years, despite losing their entire investment. FOLLIES still sparks arguments today. Had been it brilliant? Or a pretentious mess? This guide is a great addition to the FOLLIES story. Chapin obviously took great joy in simply being there and that joy shines through the pages of this book. Whether you're a FOLLIES fan or not (and I'm not), this book is a must-read for theatre buffs., The immense immediacy of Ted Chapin's " Follies" memoir puts you right in the middle of any chaotic rehearsal period. Sadly, the era Chapin remembers is as far eliminated to us as the era " Follies" meant to evoke. He rarely pauses for breath when he takes us through the thrilling rehearsal period of a musical with cast that mixed young and old and a variety of temperaments. The parts in which he speaks about Yvonne DeCarlo are fascinating and a little weird.
Accidentally, Chapin puts his finger on what exactly was completely wrong with " Follies" thirty-three years ago -- the makers never seemed to have a clear, hit-your-head-with-a-hammer conception of what it all meant. The musical seemed to create itself, and the result baffled as many people as it pleased. The particular creators even sought out there a Harvard undergrad who had written an composition on the show during its Boston tryout. (Read the book to learn who the undergrad was, but rest assured it wasn't Allen Kaczynski. ) I was too young to see it, but I truly, really wish I was there.
The figures of the actors and creative team come through, with the possible exclusion of Jim Goldman, who seemed to have distanced himself from the cast. Several surprises: Hal Prince provided line readings to the actors, and even stars generating a lot of income for the time could routinely make faults. Nevertheless, Chapin has a profound sense of decency and understanding, and never paints any of these people in an excessively negative way.
Another thing that comes through in Chapin's memoir is his audacious efficiency. Based on this accounts, Chapin was a desire gofer, coordinating the demands of a script that just kept spinning uncontrollable. I could never have done it. Hats off.
While reading the book, I often found myself singing the " Follies" score out loud; it is brilliant, and I'll never understand why critics of the time dismissed Stephen Sondheim's music. Neither, I suspect, do Chapin. For theater buffs, this guide will make you yearn to move to your local little theater group and jump right in.
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