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Best COMPLETE Recording of Follies 
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Post Best COMPLETE Recording of Follies
So I checked the book for Follies out of the library. Now I want to know what recording to get a hold of to listen to while reading it. I want a complete recording, so I can hear the show in its entirty. Suggestions?

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Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:39 pm
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Post FOLLIES
The best you can do if that's what you want is the Papermill recording. Which book have you got? I hope the original and not the vastly inferior revised version....

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Last edited by RainbowJude on Sat Jan 08, 2011 8:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Nov 25, 2009 9:06 pm
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Oh no!!!! That's the one my library has!!!!!

Looks like now I'm on the hunt for the real version.


What's different in this version? Why was it changed?

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Fri Nov 27, 2009 9:06 am
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Post The Follies of FOLLIES
The answer to this question is perhaps more complicated that it would seem.

Cameron Mackintosh thought Follies would be more popular with a lighter book, which is why and how the London revival got going. For that version, which was an experiment that thankfully will never see the light of day again, major changes were effected including the cutting of "The Road You Didn't Take", which was a dire mistake and one that Sondheim says he regrets; the changing of certain lyrics, for example in "Could I Leave You?", so as to soften the hard edges of the characters and thereby contribute to the overall lighter tone; the turnabout of the climax of the show (Ben's breakdown is instead a self-actualizing epiphany), which essentially dilutes the play beyond recognition; and the inclusion of several new numbers, "Country House" (which sounds like it could be from Into the Woods), "Loveland" (inferior in every way to the song of the same title is replaced), "Ah, But Underneath" (replacing "The Story of Lucy and Jessie" and not a bad song in its own right, but not as good a character number for Phyllis) and "Make the Most of Your Music" (which is just an epic fail as a dramatic moment in Follies, although it could be effective as a song in a revue like Putting it Together).

(Incidentally, this is also where the trend to insert an intermission into the show started becoming popular. Harold Prince had toyed with the idea in the original production, but there is no place where one really works. An intermission in Follies destroys the build of the show. The structure of the show does not support it and it's a poor choice on the part of a director, made only to satisfy the hunger of the various cash registers in the foyer.)

Mackintosh found a willing ally in Goldman for this project, who I guess didn't ever believe in the brilliance the production in its original form, and Sondheim, who has demonstrated himself to be a willing and eager collaborator if the idea behind the project appeals to him. The show, preserved on a terrible cast recording that is bearable only if one has never heard any other recording of Follies, ran marginally longer than the original Broadway production, but didn't work nearly as well dramatically. Sondheim was convinced, but Goldman thought they were onto something with this whole idea of making the show "happier".

So this is why we have the current revised version, which came to prominence through the Papermill production and the poorly produced Broadway revival. The score was mostly restored to its original version, although "Ah, But Underneath" sometimes replaces "The Story of Lucy and Jessie", and to the casual fan it appears as though the book has reverted to the original version. However, this is not the case. There are numerous changes - not a single page of dialogue was left untouched - in the book in Goldman's quest to lighten the tone and consequently try and make the show more popular. The revisions are not for the better. They once again dilute the intention of the show - and in a way that is perhaps more disturbing than in London. For while the London production will never see the light of day again, this is the only script currently approved for performance, thanks to Goldman's widow who will not allow the dark, brilliant, sharp and disturbing original book to be produced. It's a travesty, a folly, and the only comfort is that in time the brilliance of the original book will once more be allowed to emerge and outshine these bastardised revisions, as it no doubt will when that day finally arrives.

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Last edited by RainbowJude on Sat Jan 08, 2011 8:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Nov 27, 2009 8:42 pm
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So basically, there's no way to find a copy of the original book?

F***.

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Sat Nov 28, 2009 4:44 pm
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There is a copy of the original script in my theatre's library. So it's still in existence.


Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:28 pm
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Post Best Complete Recording of FOLLIES
In the Random Facts Thread, Pannic wrote:
Which recording of Follies is the best? Original? 1985 concert? Paper Mill?

In the Random Facts Thread, Disney-Bway27 wrote:
Each have their upsides and downsides. The OBC is excellent, and a good introduction to the show. The concert is probably the best, with some incredible performances, a full overture (!!!), and plenty of dialogue to follow the action. Papermill is only nice to have if you want the whole score, but it's a mediocre recording. So I vote Concert. But others might say otherwise.

In the Random Facts Thread, Pannic wrote:
Thank you. I kinda raised my eyebrow at the Papermill recording, because it's supposed to be all the music, but it omits some of the songs from the London production, such as "Make the Most of Your Music." It's really tricky trying to decide between the concert and the original. On the other hand, the concert is more complete, but it costs twice as much as the original.

The 1985 Follies in Concert recording is fine, but that's all it is - a concert recording - and while there are some incredible performances, there are others that just would never get by in a real production of Follies and which are pretty much concert novelties. Personally, I never listen to this recording, although I do watch the DVD of the concert from time to time, so I would rather get the DVD - which has enough material from the concert to be satisfying and features interviews and rehearsal footage prior to it - and opt for one of the other recordings instead. (However, I think one really needs two.)

One to avoid is the lackluster London recording, which alters the score (see my post above) and cuts one of the most essential songs in the show along the way. Diana Rigg is my least favourite Phyllis; I'm not crazy about like Julia McKenzie's Sally - her take on the role was better on the 1996 BBC Radio Broadcast - though she's the strongest of the four leads here and does better work in the role than Barbara Cook did in the Lincoln Center concert; David Healy barely makes an impression at all as Buddy; and poor Daniel Massey is stuck playing a take on Ben that makes no dramatic sense whatsoever. In a sense, they are all let down by the changes to the material; perhaps they didn't even stand a chance of delivering definitive or even virtuoso performances in the roles because of this.

Follies was pretty much perfect in 1971 and every move away from the original book and score has compromised it in some way or another, so for me the Original Broadway Cast Recording is essential, despite its flaws, namely the sound quality and way that the score is cut down completely to fit on one album. At any rate, the performances are pretty much definitive. Sure, there have been some close rivals, but nobody quite tops them and that's why it is an important one to have.

As Elliott indicated, the Papermill recording has a reputation to live down. But it is far more satisfying than most would lead one to believe - after all, we are not talking about the hopeless Roundabout revival that followed in 2001 - and only second to the 1971 recording to my mind. It is leagues ahead of the London recording. Yes, the performances are perhaps not as vibrant as they could and should be. Donna McKechnie may not be the greatest Sally, but she's more a Phyllis type anyhow - at least it seems so from the BBC recording, which alas is not available commercially. Still, it features a wide spread of material, including some of the cut material. You're right in that you say it excludes the London songs (except for "Ah, But Underneath" which was used in the production because it was decided that Dee Hoty would not be able a dance "The Story of Lucy and Jessie", which is a superior match for Phyllis in terms of character), but the London songs are not really a part of the show - they were an experiment that Sondheim believes should largely be left isolated in that production - and "Make the Most of Your Music" has no business being in the show anyway.

So - in short - I would get the 1971 OBC, the Papermill recording and the DVD of the 1985 concert.

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Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:15 pm
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