Chris Jones reports that Gary Griffin will direct Stephen Sondheim’s Follies to kick off the 2011-12 season at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
This is Big News for me. Some thoughts before I head out the door …
I had two immediate reaction to this news: excitement and disappointment.
Let’s get the disappointment out of the way first. You see, I was hoping someone would take my dream production of Follies and turn it into a reality. But with this news, that’s not likely to happen any time soon. I’m sure Griffin’ll do a lovely job with it, but, to me, the show really needs to take place in a classic proscenium theatre. Follies is about an era gone by and a venue, like the Uptown Theatre, that’s facing rapid extinction. Sure, the show is also about long-held regrets and shattered dreams and all that, but it’s also specific to a time and a place. No amount of stagecraft will pull me away from the fact that we’re sitting in a modern, thrust stage auditorium.
And now for the excitement: One of my favorite productions I’ve ever seen in Chicago was Chi Shakes’ A Little Night Music, produced in 2003 and directed by Griffin. Everything about it was perfection — from the tuxedoed musicians behind a scrim, to the crisp, all-white settings, to the inspired casting of Barbara Robertson as Desiree (where I first fell in love with her). Simple, stylish, unexpected, sophisticated. So, I hope Griffin brings the same magic to Follies as he brought to Night Music.
This news also begs the question about casting, as this show really offers a chance to showcase our amazing local musical theatre talent. Perhaps Griffin will look to the recent concert at the Humanities Festival for inspiration, with Hollis Resnik as Sally?
We shall see!