In one of those great backstage stories, a young Jim Walton graduated from a small role in the 1981 Broadway production of Merrily We Roll Along to the lead, Franklin Shepard, which he'll reprise in a Sept. 30 benefit concert in Manhattan.
In Playbill On-Line's Sept. 23-30 Brief Encounter interview, Walton said he is, of course, approaching the Stephen Sondheim-George Furth material from a new angle: "My approach will certainly be different. And it's a different presentation of the show. It's not the book. We're not doing much of the libretto. It's mainly the songs. I think Jason Alexander is going to host it and play his part, Joe Josephson. The book will basically be him narrating and telling anecdotes, I'm sure."
When he was bumped to the lead 21 years ago, how much time did he have to prepare?
"I believe it was five days, but I remember it being four days to learn the role," Walton said. "They told me on a Tuesday and I went on on a Saturday."
This time around he gets seven days to prepare for the show, which will be a benefit for Musical Theatre Works. "This will be twice the rehearsal period for me!" Walton said with a laugh. To view the Playbill On-Line's signature Q&A, click here.
— By Kenneth Jones