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A rich glimpse at 'Follies'

While I feel uneasy about reviewing a staged reading or a concert version of anything -- the rehearsal time is too short, the actors aren't off book, etc. -- I do want to share a few quick impressions of the first performance of Follies from the Caldwell Theatre Company's Broadway Concert Series this weekend (just two performances left, so if you're a Stephen Sondheim fanatic, get in your car and head to Boca Raton for the presentation tonight at 8 or Sunday at 2 p.m.

Director Clive Cholerton, with a mighty assist from musical director Eric Alsford and lighting designer Dustin Hamilton (whose effects and projections add a vintage look to an otherwise barren stage), draws strong vocal work from a first-rate cast. Especially memorable are Stephen G. Anthony as the emotionally deadened Ben, Laura Hodos as a brittle Phyllis, Melissa Minyard as the never-got-over-Ben Sally and a way intense Wayne LeGette as Buddy.  (Side note:  When LeGette was delivering his big dark comic solo, Buddy's Blues, castmates John Debokowski [who plays young Ben] and Nicole Niefeld [Young Phyllis] were sitting behind him laughing and talking through much of the number. Not cool, kids.)

Certain numbers (I'm Still Here) lack the bite that more rehearsal could have infused into them, but for the most part, another glorious Sondheim score is strongly served; just try not to get teary when Minyard sings Losing My Mind.

Tickets are $25 and $35; the Caldwell is at 7901 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton. Call 1-877-245-7432 or visit the web site.  But hurry.

A final side note: The Caldwell just got the rights to its fourth and final show for the 2010-2011 season -- Yasmina Reza's London/Broadway hit God of Carnage.  I'll bet a few people in Follies will be auditioning.  And they should.

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