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Everything Was Possible: The Birth of the…
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Everything Was Possible: The Birth of the Musical Follies (Applause Books)

by Ted Chapin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1173161,686 (4.5)None
In 1971, college student Ted Chapin found himself front row center as a production assistant at the creation of one of the greatest Broadway musicals, Follies . Needing college credit to graduate on time, he kept a journal of everything he saw and heard and thus was able to document in unprecedented detail how a musical is actually created. Now, more than thirty years later, he has fashioned an extraordinary chronicle. Follies was created by Stephen Sondheim, Hal Prince, Michael Bennett, and James Goldman giants in the evolution of the Broadway musical and geniuses at the top of their game. Everything Was Possible takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride, from the uncertainties of casting to drama-filled rehearsals, from the care and feeding of one-time movie and television stars to the pressures of a Boston tryout to the exhilaration of opening night on Broadway. Foreword by long-time NY critic Frank Rich.… (more)

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Showing 3 of 3
Ah, what a joy to read! "Follies" was a landmark musical upon release in 1971, coming hot on the heels of - and besting - Sondheim's first great work, "Company". Done well, it's a haunting examination of ageing, the demise of 'classic' culture, and how our nostalgia conflicts with a culture obsessed with modernity and youth.

By stroke of good luck, Ted Chapin was able to witness the creation of this musical from first rehearsal to opening night. This book possesses a wealth of vignettes which are fascinating, not just to people who know Sondheim and "Follies", but to anyone who is interested in how a new work of theatre is created. Chapin bears witness to early issues with script, set, costumes, choreography and vision. He recalls the painfully awkward consequences when a couple of contracted performers are let go. He walks us through the tense period of dress rehearsals, Boston previews, and the transition to Broadway. And, between the director/choreographer debates, he captures what must surely be the most fascinating element of this show - the inevitable comparisons between the characters (a bunch of ageing former stars who are now out of place in this world), and the cast members (exactly the same thing).

Of course, it's not perfect. Chapin's prose style is adequate and descriptive, but nothing special. And - although this isn't his fault - he can only write about what he witnessed. As a result, for instance, we don't really get much insight into the casting process, and most importantly very little insight into Stephen Sondheim's own creative process. But of course, that's the subject for other books. Anyone who knows "Follies" is bound to be delighted by this first-hand account of the production. And even if you don't, there is plenty in here to satisfy any theatregoer about the highs and lows of producing a new work. ( )
  therebelprince | Dec 14, 2019 |
Ah, what a joy to read! "Follies" was a landmark musical upon release in 1971, coming hot on the heels of - and besting - Sondheim's first great work, "Company". Done well, it's a haunting examination of ageing, the demise of 'classic' culture, and how our nostalgia conflicts with a culture obsessed with modernity and youth.

By stroke of good luck, Ted Chapin was able to witness the creation of this musical from first rehearsal to opening night. This book possesses a wealth of vignettes which are fascinating, not just to people who know Sondheim and "Follies", but to anyone who is interested in how a new work of theatre is created. Chapin bears witness to early issues with script, set, costumes, choreography and vision. He recalls the painfully awkward consequences when a couple of contracted performers are let go. He walks us through the tense period of dress rehearsals, Boston previews, and the transition to Broadway. And, between the director/choreographer debates, he captures what must surely be the most fascinating element of this show - the inevitable comparisons between the characters (a bunch of ageing former stars who are now out of place in this world), and the cast members (exactly the same thing).

Of course, it's not perfect. Chapin's prose style is adequate and descriptive, but nothing special. And - although this isn't his fault - he can only write about what he witnessed. As a result, for instance, we don't really get much insight into the casting process, and most importantly very little insight into Stephen Sondheim's own creative process. But of course, that's the subject for other books. Anyone who knows "Follies" is bound to be delighted by this first-hand account of the production. And even if you don't, there is plenty in here to satisfy any theatregoer about the highs and lows of producing a new work. ( )
  therebelprince | Oct 30, 2018 |
Last week I saw a production of Follies at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. The direction and ensemble was excellent with a few standout numbers and only minor flaws (the sound system). The performance so excited and intrigued me that I picked up this book at the Chicago Public Library. If you love musical theater you will not be disappointed reading it for Ted Chapin provides unique insights into the creation of a what is now, forty years later, a classic musical.
Stephen Sondheim (music & lyrics), Harold Prince (director & producer), and James Goldman (book) were all in or entering the prime of their careers and Michael Bennett who choreographed the show was soon to reach the peak of his too short career. All the elements of the creation are told with fascinating detail that could not be provided by any one else, for as a production assistant (gofer) Ted Chapin had access to all and a chance to participate and listen to many illuminating conversations. From the days preparing the scenes in the very location where the scenery was being built to the tryouts in Boston and back to Broadway for the opening the Chapin shares the odyssey in which he had a close if somewhat small hand. The results of the work of the creators and cast are the stuff of musical theater history, but seeing the musical performed forty years later here in Chicago confirmed for me that this is a classic of the American theater. Ted Chapin's book is a great way to share in the birth of that classic. ( )
  jwhenderson | Oct 23, 2011 |
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Rich, FrankForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the gentlemen and ladies of Follies, 1971
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