Fans of musical theatre should think about booking early for the LIVE transmission of ‘Follies’ at The Wellesley on Thursday 16 November at 7pm.
The National Theatre’s revival of Stephen Sondheim’s musical – the first for 30 years – has attracted rave reviews for both Director Dominic Cooke and a huge cast – including the great classical soprano, Josephine Barstow, making her National Theatre debut at 78.
The story centres around a reunion in 1971 of former performers – Weismann’s Follies – at the crumbling Weismann Theatre on Broadway, an iconic building about to be demolished. Thirty years after their final performance, the Follies girls gather to have a few drinks, sing a few songs and reminisce, not always truthfully.
The women’s recollections of themselves in their prime as performers at the theatre are accompanied by apparitions of them as they were in their ostrich-plumed youth as the theme of time past and time present is explored.
Sondheim’s songs, a set that conveys both the glamour of the theatre in its heyday and its current dilapidation and performances by both matrons and their youthful, lissom counterparts have won exceptional praise from critics. One said, “It’s a case here of knockout after knockout over an unbroken two and a quarters hours. The hairs on the back of my neck were begging for mercy for they got barely a moment’s peace, what with the thrilling sound of the orchestra (under Nigel Lilley’s fantastic musical direction) and the tightly drilled choreography of Bill Deamer.” In the words of another, “this is a jaw-droppingly great production!”
Oscar Wilde’ A Woman of No Importance’ is relayed LIVE from London’s Vaudeville Theatre on Tuesday 28 November at 7.15pm.
Wilde’s observation the ‘the world is made for men, not for women’ will resonate strongly with contemporary audiences although the play was written in 1893.
The plot focuses on Mrs Arbuthnot, a woman who has spent the past 20 years raising her son Gerald alone after his father, Lord Illingworth, refused to marry her. To avoid complete disgrace, she had to change her name, leave her home and assume the identity of a widow. Now Illingworth unknowingly wants to employ his illegitimate son as his secretary and Mrs Arbuthnot is faced with the double trauma of confronting the man who abandoned her while revealing to Gerald the truth of his parentage.
Wilde’s witty social observations and barbed commentary reveal his acute awareness of the hypocrisy of Victorian society and his admiration of women such as Mrs Arbuthnot.
Eve Best as Mrs Arbuthnot leads a cast described as ‘superb’ by critics.
‘Follies’ Thursday 16 November at 7pm
‘A Woman of No Importance’ Tuesday 28 November at 7.15pm
Advance booking and more information from Merlin Cinemas website.