Next week the Broadway legend Follies opens at the Royal Albert Hall for one day only featuring a host of inimitable performers from the UK and USA. Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman's 1971 musical hasn't been seen in London since the original 1987 production at the Shaftesbury Theatre, making this a unique chance to see one of the celebrated composers grandest and most compelling musicals in a concert setting.
Aside from the glorious score and fantastic orchestra, the production has brought together a glittering collection of names from the world of Musical Theatre. With such esteemed talent as Betty Buckley and Ruthie Henshall on offer, the special one-off event is set to be a glorious chance for Sondheim fans to rediscover the show and those who aren't familiar with it the opportunity to be taken in by this fantastic show.
Here are some songs in Follies we think you'll love.
Who's That Woman?
This number spectacularly blends the old characters with the young, as the Follies girls attempt to remember their favourite routine 'The Mirror Number'. What starts as them shuffle-ball-changing ends up as one of the biggest production numbers of the whole show. Look out for our very own Elaine Page in blue showing off her best moves – she's certainly still got it!
Losing My Mind (Bernadette Peters)
Sally's torch song from the 'Loveland' section of the show is perhaps the most famous breakaway song from the musical. Despite being covered by musical theatre performers of both sexes, my favourite rendition comes from Bernadette Peters in the Kennedy Center Revival which I was lucky enough to catch on Broadway. Cutting through the madness of the follies numbers, this is perhaps one of Sondheim's most famous ballads and one of the biggest show stoppers of the evening. Orchestrator Jonathan Tunick's ascending chromatic scale makes the arrangement even more unforgettable.
I'm Still Here (Donna McKechnie)
If there's a better song about a life in show-business, then knock me down. This iconic number, performed in the show by Carlotta Campion has become a go to standard for women of a certain age, despite Elaine Stritch commenting that an actress has only earned the right to perform the song once they reach 80. Primarily a list song, Sondheim references numerous moments and events in time ranging from Wallis Simpson to J Edgar Hoover and Brenda Frazier that make it a feat for any performer. The song replaced 'Can That Boy Foxtrot?' during out of town try-outs and has since become one of the most famous stand alone numbers from the show. If you ever feel like you've had a bad day, it's worth putting into context exactly what Carlotta has been through...
Could I Leave You? (Carol Burnett)
One of the more underrated songs from the show is performed by Phyllis Rogers Stone late in the show after Ben has asked for a divorce and she contemplates the benefits of granting his wish. Written in a gentle waltz, Sondheim's cutting lyrics build throughout, giving Phyllis the perfect platform to deliver her answer. Who better to perform this fantastically dry number than Carol Burnett?
Broadway Baby (Elaine Stritch)
One of the brassiest numbers from the show that captures the essence of the whole musical is 'Broadway Baby', the third part of a montage with 'Ah, Paris' and 'Rain on the Roof' as Hattie Walker delivers her show stopper. The phrase has been picked up and used in popular culture to describe actors 'pounding 42nd Street' – and Elaine Stritch's 'Liberty' performance is all but definitive.