Wayne Brady, Aaron Lazar, Donna Vivino Star in Merrily, Beginning Tonight

News   Wayne Brady, Aaron Lazar, Donna Vivino Star in Merrily, Beginning Tonight Michael Arden directs the West Coast production of the Stephen Sondheim musical.
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Wayne Brady, Aaron Lazar, and Donna Vivino Luke Fontana

The Michael Arden-directed production of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's Merrily We Roll Along is presented November 23-December 18 in the Bram Goldsmith Theater at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. Opening night is scheduled for November 30.

The cast is led by Whitney Bashor (Beth Spencer), Wayne Brady (Charley Kringas), Aaron Lazar (Franklin Shephard), Saycon Sengbloh (Gussie Carnegie), Amir Talai (Joe Josephson), and Donna Vivino (Mary Flynn).

The ensemble includes Eric B. Anthony, Sandy Bainum, Melody Butiu, Doran Butler, Max Chucker, Sarah Daniels, Laura Dickinson, Kevin Patrick Doherty, Rachael Ferrera, Jennifer Foster, Travis Leland, Lyle Colby Mackston, Brent Schindele, and Maximus Brandon Verso.

“It was refreshing to spend time with Michael and the Merrily team during the casting of a company comprised of such extraordinarily talented actors,” said Paul Crewes, The Wallis’ artistic director, in a previous statement. “This L.A. production genuinely reflects the diversity of America in 2016. It is one of the enlightened ways that we are approaching this great work.”

“I’m so happy to be working with this exceptional cast on my first production as The Wallis’ Artist-in-Residence, sharing what many consider to be Sondheim’s most beautiful show and score,” added director Arden. “I’m looking forward to seeing Los Angeles audiences, both young and old, connect with these special characters on their journey backwards from adults to teenagers.”

The creative team includes Eamon Foley (choreographer), Matt Gould (musical supervisor), Adam Wachter (musical director), Dane Laffrey (scenic and costume design), Travis Hagenbuch (lighting design), Dan Moses Schreier (sound design), Jeffrey Maloney (prop master), Beth Lipari (casting), T.J. Kearney (production stage manager), Anne L. Hitt (assistant stage manager), Blake Silver (associate director), and Penny Wildman (assistant choreographer). The musical is produced in association with Robert Laurita, Aaron Sanko, Invisible Wall Productions/Diego Kolankowsky, and Kari Lynn Hearn.

With music and lyrics by Sondheim and book by Furth, Merrily We Roll Along, according to press notes, “tells the powerful and moving story of a composer’s idealism and friendships, corrupted by success, in an emotionally charged journey through the lives of three friends. Told backwards, this rarely-staged musical begins with the disillusioned present, travelling in time throughout seven different periods, and ending with the friends’ optimistic early years.” Based on the Kaufman and Hart play, Merrily We Roll Along features such Sondheim songs as “Good Thing Going,” “Our Time,” “Old Friends,” and “Not a Day Goes By.”

Initially presented on Broadway in 1981, the musical ran for 52 previews and only 16 performances before quickly closing. That production is now the subject of a new documentary film, Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened, now in cinemas.

Single tickets for Merrily We Roll Along are available for $29–$110. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit TheWallis.org, call (310) 746-4000, or stop by the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Ticket Services, located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills.

(Updated November 23, 2016)

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