Tyley Ross, celebrated for his title-role performance in The Who's Tommy in Toronto, plays composer Franklin Shepard in the Shaw Festival's summer 2002 staging of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's Merrily We Roll Along, opening May 24 at the Shaw's Royal George Theatre.
Previews began May 11 and performances continue in repertory to Oct. 26.
Ross has also been seen as Chris in Toronto's Miss Saigon, and as Tony West Side Story at the Stratford Festival. His work in Tommy earned him a Dora Award in Toronto.
The Shaw Festival, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, downstream from Niagara Falls, is devoted to works written during the time of Bernard Shaw or about the time period in which Shaw lived. The Kaufman and Hart source play for the 1981 musical was first seen in 1934. The Shaw Festival is using the revised 1994 script of the cult-hit musical. The show is known for such standout tunes as "Good Thing Going" and "Not a Day Goes By," telling the story (in reverse order, from 1980 to 1957) of three friends who follow or diverge from their youthful goals.
The cast of Merrily We Roll Along also includes Patrick R. Brown, Nadia Hovan, Jane Johanson, Jeff Lillico, Jeff Madden, Adrian Marchuk, Mark McGrinder, Nora McLellan, Peter Millard, Karim Morgan, Wayne Sujo and Tracy Thomas.
Shaw Festival artistic director designate Jackie Maxwell stages the musical in the intimate Royal George, a proscenium jewelbox, with Paul Sportelli music-directing. Valerie Moore choreographs, Judith Bowden designs sets and costumes, Robert Thomson designs lighting.
The casts of Shaw musicals are not specialty performers hired for the season, but are usually drawn from the main company, where they double is dramatic and comedic roles in works by Shaw, Coward, J.M. Barrie and others.
For information about the Shaw Festival, call (800) 511 SHAW.
The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, is also reviving Merrily this summer, with Raul Esparza as Charley, as part of its "Sondheim Celebration."
— By Kenneth Jones