Wednesday, November 29, 2023
EntertainmentSan FranciscoTheatre

In our hearts, Sondheim’s still here

Musical theater trailblazer Stephen Sondheim may have passed away but his legacy lives on through his shows and songs.

His musical Company just won five Tony Awards at its recent Broadway revival and last year’s West Side Story movie remake became an Oscar winner (again) from its seven nominations including Best Picture.

If all of that didn’t keep Sondheim top of mind, even the Netflix movie Tick..Tick…Boom paid homage to the composer who even had a cameo of sorts in that film.

So with everything coming up Sondheim, it makes sense that the San Francisco Playhouse has taken on one of his toughest and lesser known musicals, Follies. Sure the show has been on Broadway three times and toured for years, but it doesn’t come to mind as easily as a Sweeney ToddGypsy or even the current Broadway favorite Into the Woods.

But it’s still a show that is definitely interesting to seek out as there are so many things that can be done with a story of reunion of aging actors who come together to a theatre which has also weathered the storm of time.

To produce this show, you not only need to make the stage seem old but you need actors who are seasoned but need to look like an equally talented younger actor who, through song, in which the characters remember life on the stage from days gone by.

San Francisco Playhouse is just the company to put off such a feat – and with great success and to be honest a little drama behind the scenes. The show opened July 20 after several COVID delays but the troupe has all come throughout and are here to perform through September 10, 2022 at the Playhouse’s Union Square theatre.

Natascia Diaz | Photo: Jessica Palopoli

While Natascia Diaz and Maureen McVerry dazzle in the bigger roles, it’s Cindy Goldfield who gets the chance to steal the show as she’s given the biggest and most known number “I’m Still Here.” (Even though Diaz gets the other big number “Losing My Mind.”)

This, though, is truly the definition of the ensemble as each cast member works well together – from group dance numbers to solos/duets. Bill English’s direction is tight and weaves together many pieces of their stories from the past to the present. The choreography is also fresh and wonderful and was happy to see that the terrific singer/actress Nicole Helfer is adding triple threat to her resume.

Since Sondheim is somewhat trending these days and we all can’t afford a trip to Broadway, seeing Follies is just the fantasy trip we need to take away from our own lives and make us feel as we’ve gone to the Great White Way instead of San Francisco’s Post Street.

Get tickets and more information at www.sfplayhouse.org.

Kevin M. Thomas

Kevin M. Thomas, or @ReelKev, is an arts blogger and entertainment reporter. In addition to his own website, www.reelkev.com and ReelKev YouTube channel, Kevin used to be the LGBT arts writer for Examiner.com and contributes to progressivepulse.com as well as a semi-regular on San Francisco's cable TV show, "10 Percent."

Kevin M. Thomas has 146 posts and counting. See all posts by Kevin M. Thomas

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