Follies Returns To National Theatre In An All-Singing, All-Dancing Triumph

Follies, National Theatre ★★★★★

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Follies Returns To National Theatre In An All-Singing, All-Dancing Triumph Follies, National Theatre 5
Photo: Johan Persson

After last year’s sold-out run and a raft of awards, Stephen Sondheim’s Follies is back at The National Theatre with the odd tweak here and there, and a few cast changes. Set during a 1971 reunion of a group of ageing dancers from a New York review show and focusing on two imploding marriages, it’s a story about getting older, regrets and the choices we make in life. The women are shadowed by their former showgirl selves who haunt them like ghosts, bedecked in dazzling costumes.

Photo: Johan Persson

It’s a huge spectacle of a show with sets and wardrobe that must have blown the budget for the next few years, some stonking great musical numbers and a whole section where the show morphs into a crazy all-singing all-dancing tribute to Broadway/Busby Berkeley/Vaudeville. There are enough rhinestones to satisfy the most needy of drag queens and enough feathers to stuff duvets for a family of six.

Photo: Johan Persson

It’s an oddly formless story in parts, but who cares? It’s glitzy, glamorous and over the top but with enough pathos and wit to make it satisfying. There are killer songs and a cast of forty, plus a live orchestra. Joanna Riding expunges any memory of Imelda Staunton, making the role of Sally her own. If you’re a Sondheim fan then you’ll get off on his sharp witticisms. If you’re not a fan then sit back and enjoy the frocks and the step perfect choreography. This one’s a winner.

Follies, National Theatre, Upper Ground, South Bank, SE1 9PX. Tickets £15-£72, until 11 May 2019.

Last Updated 25 February 2019