The pressures exerted on “Follies” by some of Goldman’s starchy, dated episodes of marital whining have been relieved by Schaeffer’s sure-handed pacing and Carlyle’s crackling dances. Even some of the slightest vignettes are more effective, as with, for example, the quicksilver rendition of “Rain on the Roof” by Susan Watson and another of the production’s newcomers, Don Correia. The opera singer Rosalind Elias and Leah Horowitz, who plays her younger doppelganger, also create a moving duet of “One More Kiss,” accompanied splendidly by conductor James Moore and a 28-piece orchestra.
“Follies” executes a head-spinning leap after Act 1 (the original played without intermission) when the four principals — Sally, Phyllis, Buddy and Ben — are transported into a Ziegfeld (here called Weismann) Follies of the mind. They’re each given a number inspired by their psychic paralysis: Buddy sings about loving a woman who doesn’t love him; Phyllis, about an inability to reconcile her younger and older selves. It’s a daring, though less-than-perfect, segue from what comes before. Still, with excellent assists from costume designer Gregg Barnes and set designer Derek McLane, who wrap this artificial “Loveland” in sublimely ridiculous pulchritude, the four songs dazzlingly survey a landscape carpeted in discord and disappointment.
The sunny solidity of Schaeffer’s staging doesn’t quite prepare us for the cold ambiguity of the musical’s final moments. And yet, this “Follies” is a becoming mosaic, its pleasures amplified by the prodigious talent on display, up and down the rickety kick line.
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Goldman. Directed by Eric Schaeffer. Choreography, Warren Carlyle; sound, Kai Harada; music direction, James Moore; orchestrations, Jonathan Tunick. With Loralee Gayer, Christian Delcroix, Nick Verina, Kirsten Scott, Frederick Strother, David Sabin, Florence Lacey. About 2 hours 40 minutes. At the Marquis Theatre, 1535 Broadway, New York. Visit www.ticketmaster.com or call 877-250-2929.