Rock Follies – changing the attitudes around them

It’s the 1970s and feminism is on the rise. Fed up with the male-dominated entertainment industry, Anna, Dee and Q take the future into their own hands and form a rock band – the ironically named Little Ladies.
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The show is Rock Follies. You might just remember it from nearly half a century ago as the TV series. It now comes to the stage in Chichester’s Minerva Theatre, running from Monday, July 24-Saturday, August 26.

Playing Anna is Carly Bawden who was previously at Chichester in Concert in the Park (2021), an outdoor concert which came as the theatre tried to negotiate its way out of the first of the lockdowns.

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“That was my introduction to Chichester and it was just such a lovely way back into being creative again. It was my first time back and it was just such a beautiful venue. We were all outdoors and so everyone felt safe. I've just got such fond memories. Things were still a bit tricky but it was such a lovely thing to do. Covid was a rough time. I was very lucky to have access to a garden and I just got through lockdowns by drinking a lot of tea and watching a lot of daytime quiz shows. I managed to persuade myself that it was keeping my brain active but it also solidified my love of quiz shows! And then it was just really lovely to come back. I found that I did have a little bit of anxiety and nervousness about coming back after having been locked away for so long in your own bubble. I really didn't venture very far during Covid and to be back on stage again required just a little bit of adjustment and that concert was the perfect way to get back into it and then after that I went to Regent’s Park and did Carousel. That glorious concert in Chichester just set me up really nicely for that.”

Carly Bawden as Anna. Photo by Johan PerssonCarly Bawden as Anna. Photo by Johan Persson
Carly Bawden as Anna. Photo by Johan Persson

And now comes Rock Follies: “It is fantastic to look back at the footage on YouTube of the show from the 70s. I've watched clips but I've tried not to watch too much because I want to have my own ideas but it's certainly lovely to have those clips to look at. It is the story of three very unique women who are friends who come together to form a band and it's how they negotiate their way through the music world as women and all the challenges that they face in terms of mental health and their friendship and their confidence and just how they managed to make their own place in that world. And I would say that they do get to a good place. They do find a happy place to be. I think they just they have this need within them to express themselves and to express their creativity and really just to push the envelope and change the attitudes around them. They really are paving the way for women in rock.”

Dominic Cooke, former artistic director of the Royal Court, directs. His recent work includes Medea and Good (West End), his multi award-winning production of Sondheim’s Follies (National Theatre), and on screen, The Courier. Book by Chloë Moss; songs by Howard Schuman and Andy Mackay.

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