BBC Films and Heyday Films have secured the film rights to Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman‘s musical, Follies. The silver screen adaptation will be written and directed by Dominic Cooke, a four-time Olivier Award winner who directed the critically acclaimed 2017 revival of the musical at London’s National Theatre.
The musical is based on the book by Goldman, with music and lyrics by Sondheim. It first appeared on Broadway in 1971, going on to be nominated for 11 Tony Awards and winning seven.
The story is set in New York and revolves around a reunion in a crumbling Broadway theatre, scheduled for demolition, of the past performers of the Weismann’s Follies, a musical revue that played in that theatre between the World Wars. It focuses on two couples who, for one last time, come together to remember and rekindle their past.
“Every note, every word of every song from “Losing My Mind” through “Broadway Baby” to “I’m Still Here” charts exactly where the character is emotionally and psychologically”, said Cooke. “Such material is a gift for any director. James Goldman‘s skilful 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”.
Sondheim added: “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”.
Cooke isn’t just jumping from theatre to cinema with no experience. He directed the recent Saoirse Ronan film On Chesil Beach, and has also helmed episodes of the BAFTA-winning series The Hollow Crown.
Considering the reach of BBC Films, and the fact that Heyday Films’ credits include Gravity, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and the Harry Potter franchise, this adaptation could be rather big. And with musicals having a revival of sorts, don’t be surprised to see Follies in the awards conversation in a few years time.