''Follies'' is a musical with music and lyrics by {{Stephen Sondheim}} and a book by James Goldman. It follows two couples who go to a reunion of a Broadway theater where the "Weismann's Follies" were shown. The women, Sally Durant Plummer and Phyllis Rogers Stone, were performers who were courted by Buddy Plummer and Benjamin Stone, respectively, after one of their shows. Both couples are now deeply unhappy with their marriages. Buddy, a traveling salesman, is having an affair with a girl on the road; Sally is still as much in love with Ben as she was years ago; and Ben is so self-absorbed that Phyllis feels emotionally abandoned. Several of the other former showgirls perform their old numbers, sometimes accompanied by the ghosts of their former selves.

The musical has two types of songs: [[IAmSong character songs]] and {{pastiche}} songs, which are sung in-universe. The two types eventually come together in the last half hour of the show, in which each of the four major characters performs his/her nervous breakdown as a song.
!!This musical contains examples of:
* TheAce: Ben Stone thinks he's this, though he's really just a pretentious snob.
* AllLoveIsUnrequited: Buddy loves Sally, Sally loves Ben, Ben loves himself, and Phyllis loves no one.
* AllMusicalsAreAdaptations: Averted
* BettyAndVeronica: For Sally, Buddy as Betty and Ben as Veronica.
* CoolOldLady: Hattie Walker, and Carlotta Champion. An argument can be made for Heidi Schiller, Stella Deems, and Solange as well, but {YMMV}.
* CutSong: "All Things Bright and Beautiful" (used in the prologue), "Can That Boy Foxtrot!" and "Uptown Downtown". The musical numbers "Ah, But Underneath" (replacing "The Story of Lucy and Jessie"), "Country House", "Make the Most of Your Music" (replacing "Live, Laugh, Love"), "Social Dancing" have been incorporated into various productions. Also {{In-Universe}}, Carlotta's song was cut from the show because it got laughs [[{{Narm}} despite being a sad song]].
* [[spoiler: {{Downer Ending}}: The couples go home without solving any of their problems, promising to do it later. Then, young Buddy and young Ben call to their girls upstairs.]]
* HeelRealization: Ben has one [[spoiler: in the middle of a song.]]
* {{Flashback}}: Flashbacks happen simultaneously with the current plot, with the characters being shadowed by the ghosts of their former selves. Literally.
* InTheStyleOf: The musical makes the most of this trope. "Who's That Woman?" is in the style of {{Cole Porter}}'s lyrics and Richard Rodger's music, "Losing My Mind" is in the style of {{George Gershwin}}'s "The Man I Love," "I'm Still Here" is in the style of Harold Arlen, "One More Kiss" is in the style of Sigmund Romberg and Rudolf Fiml, "You're Gonna Love Tomorrow" is in the style of Jerome Kern, "The Story of Lucy and Jessie" is in the style of Cole Porter and Yip Harburg, "Live, Laugh, Love" is in the style of Fred Astaire, "Ah, Paris" is fully in the style of Cole Porter and "Loveland" is, of course, in the style of the Ziegfeld Follies.
* MusicalPastiche: "Rain on the Roof" is a pastiche of novelty songs, "The-God-Why-Don't-You-Love-Me-Blues" is a vaudeville/{{Patter Song}} pastiche, and "Broadway Baby" is a pastiche of optimistic songs of the 1920s, like "The Best Things in Life are Free."
* SanitySlippageSong: FOUR of them in a row, all using some degree of {{Lyrical Dissonance}}. They are preceded by the two couples arguing with their younger selves, and their neuroses create a fantastical "Loveland" theater, wherein Sally, Phyllis, Ben and Buddy show their real and emotional lives in a sort of group nervous breakdown.:
** Buddy has "The-God-Why-Don't-You-Love-Me-Blues" about how he loves Sally despite her never being faithful or loving to him.
** Sally has "[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Losing My Mind]]" about how her thoughts of Ben never stop, and how she's unsure whether Ben loves her back.
** Phyllis has "[[BalladOfX The Story of Lucy and Jessie]]," about the difference between her old self and her current self.
** Ben has "Live, Laugh, Love" which starts out as an easygoing number about how he lives, but midway through [[spoiler: [[BreakingTheFourthWall he starts forgetting the words, causing the conductor to shout them from the pit. Ben then gives up trying to remember the song,]] and [[HeelRealization laments how selfish he has been,]]]][[spoiler: causing Loveland to collapse on him.]]
* SceneryPorn: Used for great effect with Loveland.
* TriumphantReprise: The piano part of "Beautiful Girls" comes back in "Loveland" with a full orchestra. [[{{Irony}} Though the situation it reappears in certainly isn't triumphant.]]
* TrueCompanions: Deconstructed with the couples.