Sondheim Tears Up at Merrily Reunion

News   Sondheim Tears Up at Merrily Reunion
The show's short 1981 Broadway run still hurts the composer.
Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim

Composer Stephen Sondheim choked up at the October 9 reunion of cast members from his 1981 musical Merrily We Roll Along, which had one of his shortest runs, just 16 performances.

Sondheim appeared with members of the original cast and his collaborator on the project, Harold Prince, at the New York Film Festival screening of Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened, a documentary about the musical. Directed by Lonny Price, who played Charley Kringas in the show, the film is scheduled for a November 18 theatrical release.

According to a report on, Sondheim said he still feels guilt about the show’s short run. In a post-screening conversation with film critic Jesse Green, Sondheim began to tear up when he recalled the show, which was cast mainly with actors in their teens or 20’s. ”For the first time in my life I felt guilty towards the cast, I felt that we had let them down. Not through laziness, not through tawdriness—we just did. I didn't feel that, for example, with Anyone Can Whistle [his 1964 show that had an even shorter run] but they were pros — 50, 60, 40 years old. Here, these were fledglings, and you pushed them out of the nest, and they couldn't fly. That's not a good thing.”

Sondheim reserved a share of bitterness toward the show’s theatre critics, whom he feels “attacked” him and Prince for their previous success with shows like Sweeney Todd and A Little Night Music. "We were mavericks who were not starving; that's a crime."

Read the entire piece here.

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