Theatre logo
Theatre logo

Emerson Colonial Theatre Official Blog

FOLLIES

Posted on March 20, 2024

On this day in 1971, the legendary Broadway musical FOLLIES concluded its month-long pre-Broadway tryout here at the Colonial.
With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by James Goldman, the musical follows a reunion of the famous Weismann Girls who performed in an elaborate Broadway revue between World War 1 and World War 2.
Inspired by a New York Times article about a gathering of former Ziegfeld Girls, in the musical several of the showgirls perform their old numbers – often accompanied by the ghosts of their younger selves. Originally titled THE GIRLS UPSTAIRS, it was producer and co-director Hal Prince who suggested the title of FOLLIES as he was “intrigued by the psychology of a reunion of old chorus dancers and loved the play on the world ‘follies’.”
The original production was among the most costly on Broadway and was deemed a “total financial failure, with a cumulative loss of $792,000.” However, the musical was still a big hit and ran for over 500 performances. FOLLIES was nominated for 11 Tony Awards and went on to win seven including Best Original Score.
The musical has had a number of major revivals, and several of its songs have become standards, including “Broadway Baby,” “I’m Still Here,” “Too Man Mornings,” “Could I Leave You?,” and “Losing My Mind.”
Want to learn more about this iconic musical? Check out EVERYTHING WAS POSSIBLE by Ted Chaplin, an eyewitness account of the making of FOLLIES from its Boston tryout to its triumphant Broadway opening.

Photo 1: Hal Prince, co-director & choreographer Michael Bennett, and Stephen Sondheim chat while sitting in the orchestra of the Colonial.
Photo 2: FOLLIES show poster from the Boston engagement, which can also be viewed just outside the women’s restroom in the orchestra lobby.
Photo 3: “A Prince and His Follies” Taken on the Grand Staircase of the Colonial, Prince is surrounded by several of the ghost showgirls who haunted the stage throughout the show.
Photo 4: The cover of the Boston Playbill.