Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman's 1971 musical Follies will be adapted for the big screen, with director Dominic Cooke at the helm. Cooke received an Olivier Award nomination and won the Critic's Circle Theatre Award for directing a 2017 revival of the piece at London's National Theatre.
“Over the years, there have been many attempts to bring Follies to the screen, but not until Dominic Cooke’s brilliant production at the National Theatre of Great Britain did it seem like it could be a real movie. I’m more than delighted, I’m thrilled, that it’s finally going to happen,” said Sondheim.
The movie is a co-production between Harry Potter film franchise–producer Heyday Films and BBC Films after the two studioes secured film rights for the musical.
Set within a decaying theatre, Follies centers on a reunion of former follies girls who reunite to relive their past, and rehash old wounds and regrets. Sondheim's score, largely made up of pastiche numbers paying homage to the great pop composers of the early 20th century, includes such tunes as "I'm Still Here," "Broadway Baby," and "Losing My Mind."
Cooke's production at the National, the first fully staged major London production of Follies to present the original, one-act Broadway version of the show, won two 2018 Olivier Awards: Best Revival and Best Costumes (Vicki Mortimer).
Four-time Olivier Award winner Imelda Staunton starred as Sally, opposite Olivier and Obie winner Janie Dee as Phyllis, three-time Olivier winner Philip Quast as Ben, Peter Forbes as Buddy, and two-time Olivier winner Tracie Bennett as Carlotta Campion. Joanna Riding and Alexander Hanson took over as Sally and Ben respectively when the production returned to the National for a 2019 remount. No word yet on casting for the movie.
Though this would be the work's first film adaptation, Cooke's stage production was broadcast live to movie theatres in 2017 as a part of the National's NTLive series. A 2013 production at France's Toulon Opera House was also filmed on stage and released, and a 1985 concert production at New York's Lincoln Center was partially captured as part of a documentary following an all-star cast through rehearsals and performances.
An earlier attempt to film Follies by the work's original stage director and producer Hal Prince was slated to mix fact with fiction. Prince writes in his memoir of wanting to film an actual reunion of MGM stars, some of whom would perform the work's pastiche numbers, with actors portraying the leading characters. The project never came to fruition.