Posted by: pierce 09:01 am EST 02/09/19
In reply to: Specifics and Generalizations - pierce 03:14 am EST 02/08/19

I think it's instructive to take a look at two of the books that examine the creation of Follies. When the show opened in Boston, the number for Phyllis Stone was "Uptown, Downtown" and its staging examined the duality of her personality, which Michael Bennett reinforced with the dance ensemble. As he stated to Craig Zadan in Sondheim & Co., he differentiated between the two personalities by having half of the dancers "strutting up" and the other half "strutting down." During the run there, "Uptown Downtown" was replaced by "The Story of Lucy and Jessie," and this required changes in staging. While Bennett worried if the duality would still come through with Phyllis facing the audience and the ensemble dancing with their backs to them, he made it even clearer by having Phyllis point to herself twice while singing about "two unhappy dames" - ultimately, that's what the finger pointing was all about. Ted Chapin's book Everything Was Possible, which records the progression of Follies from early rehearsals to Boston tryout to Broadway run, talks about the addition of gloves to the number on March 18, 1971. Cast member Dick Latessa remembered mentioning that he thought the dancers would "look great in white gloves to go with their red tailcoats." It was an offhand observation, but Latessa noticed that his idea "took hold" with the creative staff, so production assistant Ted Chapin was dispatched with $50 to find gloves at two of Boston's department stores.

And that's it.

The ensemble dancing with their backs to the audience, Phyllis & her finger pointing and the white gloves had NOTHING to do with a minstrel show concept; each was there only to serve the number itself - either to highlight Phyllis Stone's dual personalities, or to enhance the visual impact of the number's costumes.

Previous: Very Interesting - pierce 08:32 am EST 02/11/19
Next: re: Bennett's original setting for "Story of Lucy and Jessie" was a minstrel show. - portenopete 12:10 am EST 02/07/19

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