Raines Returns To The Stage!

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If you live in the Washington, D.C., area, there's a hot ticket in town: Follies, the Stephen Sondheim musical, is currently playing at The Kennedy Center, and it's a smash hit! The play stars Broadway veterans Bernadette Peters (Gypsy), Danny Burstein (South Pacific), Jan Maxwell (Lend Me A Tenor), Elaine Paige (Sunset Boulevard)... and GUIDING LIGHT's own Ron Raines (Alan)! "It's just been thrilling to be a part of it," Raines tells Soaps In Depth. "The talent it's brought out is just amazing."

First on Broadway in 1971, Follies follows a group of musical-revue performers reuniting at their former playhouse for one last bash before the crumbling theater's demolition. "It was inspired by two real theaters that were torn down, and parking lots were made in their space," explains Raines, himself a vet of The Great White Way (Chicago, Show Boat). "That's when a lot of the historical preservation [of theaters] started kicking in. But the play was inspired by that kind of action.

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"The story itself is of a producer, Dimitri Weismann, who produced shows between World War 1 and World War 2, who has invited back all of the people who performed there," Raines continues. "There are a lot of little bitty plots between the characters -- because it's quite a big show -- but the main conflict is between four people: Sally, Phyllis, Buddy and Ben."

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Raines plays Ben, who is married to Maxwell's Phyllis. Peters plays Sally, the wife of Burstein's Buddy. "The main story is between those four, and the memories that being back in the theater stirs up," he notes. "Ben married Phyllis because he was a very ambitious man and she was the best trophy wife for him, but he was very fascinated with Sally. The show's about people choosing certain paths in their lives that necessarily weren't the right one."

In fact, Raines says that his character's first song, "The Road You Didn't Take," sums up the crux of the whole show. "The lyrics are brilliant. It's really what this show is all about. Wondering if I had taken that road instead of this road, how that would have changed my life."

Before Follies even opened in early May, the eight-week run was nearly sold out! "Over the years. It's developed a really unbelievable cult following," Raines says with a laugh. "I mean people come from all over. Not just from Washington. They're coming from New York and the West Coast, Europe... all over the place. It's been kind of wild!"

Even more wild for the Follies cast was performing in front of Mr. Sondheim himself! "Of course, that was just a thrill for everybody. And he enjoyed it, so that was a good sign!" laughs Raines.

For more of our interview with Raines -- and to find out where he's headed next -- check out the new issue of Soaps In Depth, on sale now. For the actor's concert schedule, visit www.ronrainesonline.com.

Follies will conclude its run at The Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater on Sunday, June 19. For tickets, visit www.Kennedy-Center.org.

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