Doyle Will Direct Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along at the Watermill

News   Doyle Will Direct Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along at the Watermill Director John Doyle will follow up the success of his Watermill, West End and award-winning New York production of Sweeney Todd with another Watermill revival of a Stephen Sondheim musical, Merrily We Roll Along.
John Doyle
John Doyle Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Doyle's production will open at the Watermill on Jan. 21, 2008, following previews that begin Jan. 16. The production, according to Variety, will employ Doyle's trademark approach, casting actors who also double as the show's onstage orchestra. The Sondheim (music and lyrics) and George Furth (book) musical tells the story of composer Franklin Shepard, who sold out to commercialism and in the process destroyed his relationship with his lyricist and film-critic friend.

The plot is told in reverse, starting at the end and ending at the beginning when the three friends meet for the first time. The production is currently casting; rehearsals are due to begin Dec. 10.

In a statement, Doyle paid tribute to the Watermill's late founder and director Jill Fraser, who died last year. "It is almost two years since Jill Fraser asked me if I would do one more musical at the Watermill. I promised I would. Much has changed, of course, in those 2 years, but I wanted to keep my promise to Jill."

Merrily We Roll Along is based on an original play by George Kaufman and Moss Hart. Harold Prince's world premiere production of the musical closed after just 16 performances and 52 previews.

In the U.K. the show was mounted at the Haymarket, Leicester, starring Maria Friedman, where it ran for three weeks and was last seen in London at Michael Grandage's Donmar in 2005 with a cast led by Julian Ovenden, Daniel Evans and Samantha Spiro.

For more on Merrily We Roll Along, which is booking until March 8, 2008, visit www.watermill.org.uk.