I can speak only having seen the Kennedy Center production, which worked for me because in each scene, it showed the results of a choice made in the recent past, leading one step closer to the characters' eventual unhappiness and disappointment. I wondered, how could they be so foolish to have made that choice? Then we go back in time a bit and see exactly why, and even understand exactly why. And each time, the lead character makes a choice we know isn't good, he is influenced by a different set of people often with good intentions. There is no one set of people who would have guided him right, only small choices against his internal sense that chipped another piece off his integrity and moved him one more step off course.
I have no idea if he is as talented as his friends think he is. I do know, he was happier when he made time to indulge that talent.
I think, like Follies, it captures the regret of the late middle aged people of its time, in this case, wealthy 80s people, and allows them to wonder how they ended up so unhappy.