PHOTO ARCHIVE: "Hey, Old Friend!" Looking Back at Merrily We Roll Along
By Matthew Blank
Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's Merrily We Roll Along rolls back to New York in a City Center Encores! staging Feb 8-19. Here, we take a look back at the original Broadway Merrily, some subsequent productions and the 2002 cast reunion.
Merrily originally opened in 1981 at Broadway's Alvin Theatre, in a production staged by Harold Prince, playing 52 previews and 16 performances.
The cast featured Jim Walton (Franklin Shepard), Lonny Price (Charley), Ann Morrison (Mary), Terry Finn (Gussie), Jason Alexander (Joe) and Sally Klein (Beth).
The upcoming City Center Encores! production of Merrily We Roll Along will star Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights) as lyricist Charley Kringas, Colin Donnell (Anything Goes) as songwriter Franklin Shepard, Celia Keenan-Bolger (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) as magazine writer Mary Flynn, Betsy Wolfe (Tales of the City, Everyday Rapture) as Franklin's wife Beth and Elizabeth Stanley (Million Dollar Quartet) as Gussie Carnegie (the star of Franklin and Charley's first Broadway hit).
Rounding out the company are Adam Grupper as producer Joe Josephson and Zachary Unger as Frank Jr. with Whit Baldwin, Rachel Coloff, Ben Crawford, Joshua Dela Cruz, Bernard Dotson, Colleen Fitzpatrick, Marja Harmon, Leah Horowitz, Mylinda Hull, Michael X. Martin, Sean McKnight, Kenita R. Miller, Patricia Noonan, Andrew Samonsky, Pearl Sun, Charlie Sutton, Jessica Vosk, Karl Warden and Michael Winther.
James Lapine, who directed a revised version of the 1981 Broadway musical in California in 1985, is at the helm of this concert version at New York City Center.
Music direction is by Rob Berman. Musical staging is by Dan Knechtges (Xanadu, …Spelling Bee and Lysistrata Jones). Orchestrations are by Jonathan Tunick. Merrily We Roll Along will play an extended run of 15 performances.
Here's how Encores! bills the show: "With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth, Merrily We Roll Along is a musical about friendship and the compromise of youthful ideals, based on the 1934 play of the same name by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. The show moves backwards in time from 1980 to 1955 and examines the lives of three people whose friendship is tested by time, events, ambition and fate. It charts the rise of a songwriting team during the years of Sondheim’s own early career and includes some of his most brilliant and bruising songs, such as 'Not a Day Goes By,' 'Old Friends,' 'Our Time' and 'Opening Doors.' Although unsuccessful in its original 1981 Broadway production, Merrily has gained in stature and reputation over the ensuing years, beginning with a reconfigured version at the La Jolla Playhouse in California in 1985, directed by James Lapine."
City Center is located on 55th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues. Merrily We Roll Along will run for 15 performances according to the following schedule: Tuesday at 7 PM, Wednesday at 7:30 PM, Thursday and Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 2 PM and 8 PM and Sunday at 2 PM and 7 PM (exception: Wednesday Feb. 15 at 7 PM).
Tickets start at $25 and are available at the New York City Center Box Office (West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues), through CityTix at (212) 581-1212, or online at www.NYCityCenter.org.
Special thank you to Jennifer Ashley Tepper, David L. Snyder, Terry Finn and Abigail Pogrebin.
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