It’s Friday, and I’m back from the road and ready to post my Wall Street Journal drama-column teaser. I reviewed two out-of-town shows today, the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival‘s production of The Tempest and Barrington Stage Company‘s revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies:
When playing Shakespeare out of doors, nothing is so dangerous as a beautiful view. The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival is currently performing “The Tempest” in a tent pitched on the well-kept lawn of the Boscobel Restoration, an 1808 mansion on a high wooded bluff that overlooks the Hudson River. Even after you’ve spent a pleasant hour picnicking on the grass, the spectacle of the water below and the mountains beyond remains irresistibly seductive. Terrence O’Brien, founder and artistic director of the festival and director of this production, has wisely chosen not to fight the view but blend with it, and the result is a winsome “Tempest” that seems as much a part of its natural surroundings as the silver moon in the night sky overhead….
I’ve long wondered whether “Follies” might be a small show trapped inside a giant body, in which case it could profit from a bare-bones rethinking along the lines of Stafford Arima’s Paper Mill Playhouse revival of “Ragtime.” Instead, Julianne Boyd, Barrington Stage Company’s artistic director, has stuck as close to the look and feel of the original production of “Follies” as her limited resources will allow, and she’s done an impressive job of making the most of the tools at hand, thanks in part to an outstanding cast (whose roster of showgirls includes Donna McKechnie and Marni Nixon!). If the results fail to tell us anything new about “Follies,” they nonetheless succeed in bringing a flawed yet eloquent show to pulsing, passionate life.
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