11 November 2011

If Sally from Sondheim’s ‘Follies’ Had a Sassy Gay Friend

Brian Gallivan, the creator of the Sassy Gay Friend

It’s hard to imagine that Sally Durant Plummer doesn’t have a Sassy Gay Friend. After all, she’s the main character in Follies, a cult musical by Stephen Sondheim. And she’s been portrayed by iconic divas like Bernadette Peters (in the current Broadway revival) and Barbara Cook. Sally should be positively swarming with gay friends.

But she doesn’t have one. How else to explain Sally’s behavior? (Or that dress?) Clearly, she needs a Sassy Gay Friend — just like the popular Second City character-turned-pitchman — to set her straight, just the way he’s done for so many heroines of Shakespeare.

In Follies, the scene might go something like this.

Bernadette as Sally on Broadway

SALLY and BEN: How many mornings
Are there still to come!
How much time can we hope that there will be?
Not much time, but it's time enough for me —

SASSY GAY FRIEND: Stop it, stop it, stop it! What are you doing?

SALLY: Why, I’m staking everything on a chance at late-life happiness with Ben!

BEN: That’s right.

SASSY: I’m not talking to you — you already have a Sassy Gay Friend!

BEN: I do??

SASSY: Have you taken a good look at your wife lately? She’s like me in a dress. But back to you, Sally. How does your husband feel about your running away with Ben?

SALLY: He’ll just have to understand. Buddy always understands everything. (She stifles a yawn.)

SASSY: Right. Which is why it’s such a good idea to leave him, I guess.

SALLY: Well —

Bernadette with Ron Raines as Ben

SASSY: This isn’t the first time you and Ben were going to run off together, is it?

SALLY: Why, no. Thirty years ago, we were going to get married.

SASSY: Mm-hmmm. And how’d that work out for you?

SALLY: Uh … Ben threw me over for Phyllis.

SASSY: And what’s changed since the last time you and Ben saw each other?

SALLY: Why — I’m much wiser and more mature, now that I’ve spent 30 years sitting on my ass in the suburbs!

SASSY: Which naturally means you still have the figure of a 19-year-old showgirl?

SALLY: Er — well —

SASSY: Unless of course you’re Bernadette, in which case we’ll just suspend our disbelief for a couple of hours now, shall we?

BEN: I think Sally looks just fine.

SASSY: Don’t make me hurt you, Ben. Now Sally, tell me how you spend your mornings.

SALLY: Well, sometimes I stand in the middle of the floor, not going left, not going right.

SASSY: That’s because you’re depressed, girlfriend!

SALLY: I am?

SASSY: Trying putting Prozac in that coffee cup, sister!

SALLY: Mmm! It’s much tastier than Sweet’n’Low!

SASSY: Meanwhile, back to you, Ben. You’re not really going to leave Phyllis, are you?

BEN (humming thoughtfully): Leave her? Leave her? How could I leave her? Uh — maybe for a couple of nights.

SASSY: Sally’s talking about forever, Ben!

BEN: But that would be the end of my political career!

SALLY (as the Prozac takes effect): You’re really not very nice, Ben, are you? And to think I might have left the most patient, adorable husband in the history of Broadway musical comedy — I jeopardized the happiness of four people — just for a manipulative blowhard like you! What was I thinking?

SASSY: Say it with me, Sally. You were a stupid bitch.

SALLY: Ha! I was a stupid bitch!

SASSY: But not anymore! Now, you’re —

SALLY: I — I’m here?

SASSY: Say it!

SALLY (sings): I’ve run the gamut, A to Z
Three cheers and dammit, c’est la vie!
I got through all of last year, and I’m here.
Lord knows at least I was there, and I’m here!
Look who’s here!
I’m still here!

SASSY (aside, while SALLY brings down the house): And remember, folks, we owe it all to Prozac! It’s like MiO© liquid beverage enhancer with a prescription-strength kick!


Yes, if only Sally had a Sassy Gay Friend, or Prozac,
she might look very much like this:
Elaine Paige as Carlotta

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