Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merrily We Roll Along

I saw this version of Merrily We Roll Along a couple of months ago. It was taped live on the West End, and was broadcast to theaters. I was blown away. The score is one of my favorites, but I'd heard it never really worked, as the story is told backwards.

The original production featured a bunch of younger actors including Jason Alexander, Lonny Price, and Jim Walton. The story centers on a group of three friends, and one in particular who has become a great success at the price of many people in his life. The students in the opening ask him how he got to where he was, and the story is his memory and reconstruction.

The director removed the frame of a graduation, and cast actors in their late 30s and early 40s who aged backwards, which is a wise choice.  The opening number includes an affair, alcoholism, and the dissolution of a marriage and lifelong friendship - no wonder it didn't work with twenty year-olds. The direction is flat out brilliant, as are the performances. This show has been fabled not to work, and this production does the exact opposite.

The music is amazing, including a perennial Sondheim favorite, "Not A Day Goes By", and my favorite "Our Time," which is included in this trailer.

Maybe I'm at the time of life where looking back and seeing an entire life and choices made effects us further on, but I'm a sucker for this.  It's a beautiful piece of work. I've heard it's going to be available for streaming.  I'll be first in line.

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