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Follies, used as a theatrical term, usually refers to an elaborately costumed musical revue.

Not to be confused with the word "folly" or "follies" in the more general senses of (a) lack of good sense; foolishness, and (b) a foolish act, idea, or practice (and thus also at times the name given to a costly ornamental building with no practical purpose, especially a tower or mock-Gothic ruin built in a large garden or park).[1] This sense is found for example in play titles such as Grace Huntley, or The Follies of Youth, etc.


The term first crops up prominently as part of a the title of a theatrical presentation in the name of the iconic Folies Bergère of Paris, and came to prominence in America and the English speaking world through the famous and popular Ziegfeld Follies[2], conceived and mounted by Florenz Ziegfeld. A series of elaborate theatrical revue productions on Broadway in New York City from 1907 to 1931, with renewals in 1934 and 1936, they also had an international impact through the appearance of the performers in various musical films of the mid 20th century. This usage is at times also linked to the minstrelsy tradition with the term being applied to such performing troupes, as well as the particular revue, e.g. the Midnight Follies (1920s), the Pitch Black Follies (1938).

The term has since been employed in various ways by many other impressarios, including a few in South Africa in the course of the 20th century, including shows such as the Springbok Follies (1941) Follies Fantastique and Follies Spectacular (both by Brickhill-Burke), Adam's Follies (Adam Leslie) Jo'burg Follies, Jo'burg Follies 2 and Jo'burg Follies 4 & A Half (Feather and Terrey), Minstrel Follies ().

A few political satires also utilized the "follies" approach, including Black and White Follies (Honeyman), .


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