"Hats off! Here they come, those beautiful girls. That's what you've been waiting for. Nature never fashioned a flower so fair. No rose can compare; nothing respectable, half so delectable. Cheer them in their glory, diamonds and pearls, dazzling jewels by the score. This is what beauty can be. Beauty celestial, the best, you'll agree: all for you, these beautiful girls!"
So begins Follies, a musical by Stephen Sondheim about showgirls and their families visiting the theater they used to perform in one more time before it is demolished. Sondheim is considered one of the best song writers/composers in the business, and this was the first time he had written both the lyrics and music for a show (having written the lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy, among others). Over the years Follies has left critics divided, the harsher critics saying the piece is a large spectacle of songs over a non-existent plot, while more favorable critics point out that Follies is more a retrospective on the history of musical theater itself. Either way, Follies has enjoyed several revivals since its 1971 Broadway debut, and has many songs that are now standards including "Broadway Baby", "I'm Still Here, and "Loosing My Mind".
This week, our LIFE class got to enjoy a trimmed-down performance of Follies given by our Academy of Lifelong Learning: Acting for Seniors troupe. Professor Ron Jones directed these burgeoning thespians though brief but bright performances of the shows main musical numbers. The house was packed for both performances, and after the applause, we can only say "Bravo!"
And what are we to think as we go home? What is the takeaway from the night's performance? The meaning of the story is always up to the viewer, and critics are perpetually torn on the issue. I like to think we should all "Learn how to laugh. Learn how to love. Learn how to live." That's my tip. Good night folks!