NEW YORK — Reaffirming that an out-of-town workout is still a show’s optimal fitness program, the Kennedy Center revival of “Follies,” seen in Washington last spring, has landed on Broadway as a fleeter-footed, more consistently exhilarating incarnation of Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s masterstroke 1971 musical.
The weakling elements evident in Washington last spring have been resiliently bulked up. The improvements begin with the pivotal performance of Bernadette Peters, whose lovelorn Sally had seemed shallowly conceived. Now, in the Marquis Theatre, where the production officially opened Monday night, the veteran Sondheim interpreter has found a poignant core for Sally, a woman awash in regrets-soaked delusion.
Her rendition of Sally’s torch-song pastiche, the glorious “Losing My Mind,” might not garner the loudest applause on an evening when audiences cheer the various deserving stars often — and no group more than the assorted mature ladies led by Terri White, who tap-dance with elan to the delicious “Who’s That Woman?” Still, “Losing My Mind” is a stunner: Peters sings as if in the grip of a near catatonic spell, the lyrics enveloping her in a choking swoon of despair.