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The On Chesil Beach director will adapt the dark musical after helming a hit revival of Follies at the National Theatre in London in 2017, with Imelda Staunton and Janie Dee starring. That acclaimed production returned this year in an encore engagement.
Movie versions of Follies have been on the drawing board before, but none ever got a green light. “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,” Sondheim said Thursday in a statement.
Based on the book by Goldman and with music and lyrics by Sondheim, Follies centers around a reunion of former musical revue performers. The show features classic songs like “Broadway Baby,” “I’m Still Here” and “Losing My Mind” as it pays tribute to American theater traditions of the 1930s and ’40s.
Follies debuted on Broadway in 1971 with Harold Prince’s original production, which was nominated for 11 Tony Awards but lost out for best musical to a song-and-dance version of Two Gentlemen of Verona, a decision that still sends musical theater aficionados into paroxysms of rage. The movie version will be produced by David Heyman and Rosie Alison, with Rose Garnett executive producing.
“James Goldman’s skillful book nods as much to the golden age of movie musicals as to Broadway, so it feels like natural material to turn into a movie,” said Cooke in his own statement.
In addition to his extensive stage work, Cooke directed three episodes of the all-star BBC Shakespeare series, The Hollow Crown, and made his feature debut with the upcoming Cold War spy thriller, Ironbark, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel Brosnahan and Jessie Buckley.
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