Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s musical Follies is a story that puts glittering memories of the past up against the harsh realities of living a long, complicated life. As the show begins, a group of former Weismann Follies starts (and their plus ones) arrive at a reunion being held to celebrate their old theatre before it gets demolished. Through flashbacks, fight scenes, and sung soliloquies, Sally, Buddy, Phyllis, Ben, and company give us a cavalcade of glamour and ghosts.
One of the show’s most famous tunes is, “I’m Still Here,” sung by Carlotta Campion, a film star and former Follies girl. The song speaks to the unsteady nature of a career in show business, interwoven with examples of how nothing in life is a sure thing, so ya gotta keep ya chin’ up! Here are the opening lyrics:
Good times and bum times
I’ve seen them all and, my dear
I’m still here
Plush velvet sometimes
Sometimes just pretzels and beer
But I’m here
This lyric is one of my all time favorites. I seem to recall pulling in it out when we arrived at a dumpy La Quinta in Springfield, Missouri on our way to see a beautiful production of Follies in St. Louis. But in line with the spirit of the song, pretzels and beer ain’t all that bad, and in fact, quite comforting on a cold rainy night.
Plush Velvet Sometimes Pretzels & Beer Cheese Soup
- 1/4 cup olive oil or butter
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 twelve-ounce can Tallgrass Brewing Velvet Rooster Belgian-Style Tripel Ale
- 2 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute
- 1 pound aged cheddar cheese, grated
- large, crunchy salted pretzels
In a large saucepan or stew pot, cook the olive oil or butter over medium-high heat for 3 minutes, or until the butter melts. Add the chopped white onion, and cook until it starts to become translucent about 5 minutes. Gently shake in the flour, stirring it into the onion mixture until any clumps have disappeared.
Pour in the vegetable stock and beer. Bring to a simmer. It’s okay if you need to raise the temperature a little at this point to get the liquid bubbling. Now, add the milk and 21 Seasoning Salute. Continue to stir the mixture, and bring to a simmer once more.
As soon as bubbles appear, remove the soup from the heat and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Using a countertop or submersion blender, blend the soup on low until it becomes smooth like plush velvet. Transfer the soup back to the pot over medium heat for 3 minutes. Gradually add the grated cheddar cheese in small hand fulls, continually stirring until all the cheese melts. Serve with crunchy salted pretzels, and remember, life can be rough but, we’re still here!