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Follies (Highlights from the 1971 Original Broadway Cast) Cast Recording

4.3 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Cast Recording, November 21, 1992
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Editorial Reviews

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The scene: an abandoned theater, where a group of performers--alumni from the fictional musical revue The Weismann Follies--is holding a reunion shortly before the building is to be turned to rubble. The long-retired players relive their careers through Stephen Sondheim's brilliant pastiches of past songwriters, sometimes accompanied in song or dance by the ghosts of their previous selves. At the same time, four of the people (two married couples) are remembering their pasts and wondering whether they chose their spouses--and the course of their lives--correctly. The 1971 original cast of Follies included many former Broadway and Hollywood stars--Dorothy Collins, Gene Nelson, Alexis Smith, Mary McCarty--and the pedigree and sheer size of the cast kept the show from profitability despite a decent run (and also keep it from being frequently revived).

This recording of Stephen Sondheim's legendary show has become something of a legend itself. The score included 22 songs, but because the cost of recording a two-LP set was considered prohibitive, a number of songs were omitted and others were abridged. As a result, this too-brief 58 minutes can't be considered the final statement on Follies (for more music, try the uneven but sometimes electric 1985 concert recording or the 1998 New Jersey revival), but listen to Yvonne DeCarlo sing the anthem "I'm Still Here" or Collins sing the heartbreaking "Losing My Mind" and you'll know that the original cast had a special magic that has yet to be surpassed. --David Horiuchi

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Product Details

  • Performer: Stephen Sondheim, Dorothy Collins, Alexis Smith
  • Audio CD (November 21, 1992)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Cast Recording
  • Label: Angel
  • ASIN: B000002SNP
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,787 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I admit it. I love Follies, and have three recordings of it - this original Broadway recording, the single CD version of the 1987 London recording, and the double CD New Jersey 1998 recording. This latter recording is possibly the finest, being the most complete, and also including some extra tracks. However, it seems to be no longer available from amazon.com.
So to the recording at hand. The original cast, and to an extent then, the definitive recording. Well, it would be if there were more of the music on here, but what there is just happens to be pure class.
Alexis Smith and Dorothy Collins give up great performances as the two leading Follies girls. They are ably supported by their husbands, Gene Nelson and John McMartin.
Standing above the rest of the supporting cast is Yvonne de Carlo (best remembered as Lily Munster) with the song written especially for her, I'm Still Here. She sings it surprisingly pacily compared to the other available recordings that I know of. As the intended artist, we must assume that this is the definitive reading.
The other Follies ladies all give good performances, but as has been said by other reviewers, this cast recording is sadly incomplete.
Well, OK, so what if it is? As an introduction to this great work, full of rich pastiche numbers, clever lyrics, and towards the end the heartbreaking Losing My Mind, this is a good place to start....
If you cannot find the 1998 New Jersey recording, then this is the next best thing.
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Format: Audio CD
I was privileged to see Follies in its initial Broadway run three times, including the most memorable and emotional closing night I have ever spent in a Broadway theatre. Follies remains my favorite Sondheim musical (and Sondheim remains my favorite Broadway composer) even though I admit that those who consider Sweeney Todd his masterpiece certainly have good reasons for doing so. The Follies "highlight" original cast album - funny it wasn't released that way - it was released simply as "the cast album" - is a bittersweet experience; to this day, I regret as do other reviewers here that the producers could not see their way to releasing a two-disc complete recording. It's not so much the numbers that were completely left out as the songs that were butchered and cut to their bare essentials that one regrets most. I can live without "Loveland", but the loss of almost half of the lyrics to "I'm Still Here" and "Broadway Baby" are omissions that have puzzled me since the day this abortion of a cast album (as my ex-boyfriend called it at the time) was released. Although most of this has already been said, the main reason I wanted to add my two-cents was to trumpet the song that for some reason is one of the least mentioned but, for me, the most impressive. "Too Many Mornings' is, to me, both lyrically and musically the most touching, heartbreaking and emotionally potent song that Mr. Sondheim ever wrote. The sentiment behind the lyric is one that makes me literally choke up with tears and is still capable - 34 years after I first heard it - of making me break out in goose bumps. "Two many mornings, waking and pretending I reach for you, thousands of mornings, dreaming of my girl. All that time, wasted, merely passing through, time I could have spent, so content, wasting time with you...Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
Stephen Sondheim was still a relatively young man whose career was just taking off when FOLLIES premiered in 1971. As the last in a long line of cast albums from Capitol, it was given a routine record production. But FOLLIES was an enormously complex show: people still debate its merits some 30 years later. While it may have been a sound business decision to limit the recording to a single Lp, it is unforgivable that better use was not made of the available time. A little more dialogue, some electronic adjustment so we could tell when the "ghosts" were singing, the transition into (and out of) the "Loveland" sequence, and coaxing sharper performances from the cast might have resulted in a recording that captured the spirit of the show better. Still, it remains an outstanding score (one can't call it one of Sondheim's "best" because all his scores show him at his best!) and moments captured here have never been surpassed: Dorothy Collins' "In Buddy's Eyes"; Ethel Shutta's "Broadway Baby", Yvonne De Carlo's "I'm Still Here" and Alexis Smith smoldering "Could I Leave You." For the Cd Angel has comissioned new and insightful liner notes, but unfortunately they do not reprint the very detailed synopsis that was included with the original Lp release. The sound has been "fixed" as best it could be but much distortion remains. If forced to choose just one FOLLIES album I would have to go with RCA's 1985 concert recording, but the original cast album, despite its many flaws, is still worth having.
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Format: Audio CD
Like watching Orson Welles' "The Magnificent Ambersons" -- another masterpiece truncated in the name of crass commercialism -- one cannot but feel regret that the unbutchered version will never be experienced. Many later versions have been recorded, with the full score -- but they all have the feeling of what they in essence were -- concert performances by disparate performers. This original cast gives the definitive performance of every number Capitol deigned to include: and butchered though the form of the score may be, none of the later, fuller recordings captures the complexity, regret, lushness and sarcasm that this does. All things considered, I have several of the recordings, but the others are more "archival" -- I turn to THIS recording, still, when I want to experience this brilliant musical. And as another reviewer has aptly noted, this version, much more than later ones, bears repeated hearings. In fact they make you love it all the more. So -- yes -- flaws and all -- FIVE STARS!
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