Follies

Original Broadway Production (1971)

Trivia & History

There were several changes to roles throughout the tryout and Broadway run:

  • When the production played its pre-Broadway run in Boston, the character played by Ethel Barrymore Colt was listed in the playbill as Christine Donovan. That name may have been in playbills during early previews on Broadway, which may explain why some sources (including the published script) list the character name as Christine Donovan, but the name was definitely changed to Christine Crane by opening night. 
  • The character played by Sonja Levkova — Sandra Donovan — is not listed at all in the published script\'s cast list, nor is the character played by Peter Walker (Chet Richards), but all the Broadway playbills we have found list both of them by those character names. In addition, both performers are given those character names in the cast list that accompanied Clive Barnes's opening-night review in The New York Times. In the published script, Levkova and Walker are listed among "Singers, Dancers." 
  • The character Deedee West — played by Helon Blount — seems to have been dropped from the show altogether shortly into the run. Blount was listed in early Broadway playbills and the Boston playbill as the understudy for three characters — Christine Crane, Hattie Walker, and Stella Deems. She seems to have stayed on as an unlisted understudy.

Other changes to roles in Boston:

  • During the pre-Broadway run in Boston, we see different character names for some characters, some of which appear to establish specific relationships. No Major-Domo character is listed in Boston, but Dick Latessa, who would play the role on Broadway, is listed as Terry Donovan. This was when Christine Crane was listed as Christine Donovan (Ethel Barrymore Colt) so he presumably played her husband.
  • Sonja Levkova was listed as Sandra Wheeler rather than Sandra Donovan, suggesting that she played Willy Wheeler\'s wife (who must also have been a former chorus girl).
  • Several other characters who were listed in the Boston playbill disappeared by Broadway, including Roscoe's Daughter (played by Suzanne Rogers) and Francesca played by Victoria Mallory (who was also listed as Young Heidi in the Boston playbill). On Broadway, when Roscoe kissed Suzanne Rogers before starting to sing "Beautiful Girls," it seemed as if she might have been his much younger girlfriend or wife rather than his daughter.

The understudy lists for this show are strange and confusing. In some of the playbills we have, relatively few of the characters have understudies listed. In other playbills, more of the characters have understudies listed, but even those playbills don't list understudies for some characters for whom you'd expect there to have been understudies. 

Several performers who were in the show were listed as standbys rather than understudies, a somewhat unusual but probably not unprecedented situation. This was the case with Sheila Smith when the show opened, and later was true for both Jan Clayton and Marion Marlowe. Clayton joined the show just as standby for Sally, but later joined the regular cast, while still listed as the standby for Sally.

While we usually try to make our understudy lists consistent with opening-night credits, in this case we have included understudies who were listed in playbills early in the run for characters who seem not to have had understudies listed when the show opened on Broadway.


Some sources incorrectly state that the first preview took place on Thursday, March 25, 1971. The first preview was on Wednesday, March 24, 1971.


Follies won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for best musical of the 1970-1971 season. The production received the votes of 11 of the group's 20 members. The Me Nobody Knows received five votes. The revival of No, No, Nanette and Two by Two each received one. There were two abstentions.

The Variety Poll of New York Drama Critics voted several awards to the production: Female Lead, Musical (Alexis Smith), Set Designer (Boris Aronson), Costume Designer (Florence Klotz), Composer (Stephen Sondheim), Lyricist (Stephen Sondheim), Producer (Harold Prince)

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