Full Cast Announced for Encores' MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG!
Casting has been completed for New York City Center's upcoming Encores! production of Stephen Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along, the first New York City Center Encores! production of the season. Merrily We Roll Along, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth, will be directed by James Lapine with music direction by Rob Berman and musical staging by Dan Knechtges. Merrily has been extended for a two-week run and will play for 15 performances, February 8–19, 2012, at New York City Center, 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.
Joining the previously announced Colin Donnell, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Elizabeth Stanley and Betsy Wolfe will be Adam Grupper and Zachary Unger, 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.
Merrily We Roll Along, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth, 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 (which ran 16 performances at the Alvin Theatre), 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. Merrily We Roll Along will run February 8 – 19, 2012.
The Encores! production will be based on Furth and Sondheim's rewrite of the show for La Jolla Playhouse in 1985, with elements of the 1990 Leicester, England production and a subsequent York Theatre production in 1994 incorporated. Encores! Artistic Director Jack Viertel said, "While it is, generally, the idea of Encores! to present the original Broadway version of the show, when there are living authors who have specific preferences, we welcome their input. In this case, the authors continued to work on the show after the Broadway production closed, and we certainly want to honor their work."
Colin Donnell plays Franklin Shepard, an idealistic young Broadway composer turned Hollywood mogul; Lin-Manuel Miranda plays Charley Kringas, Shepard's partner and best friend; and Celia Keenan-Bolger plays Mary Flynn, their loyal but disillusioned friend. Betsy Wolfe plays Shepard's wife Beth and Elizabeth Stanley plays Gussie Carnegie, the star of their first Broadway hit. Adam Grupper plays Joe Josephson and Zachary Unger plays Frank Jr.
Lin-Manuel Miranda is the Tony-winning composer-lyricist of Broadway's In the Heights, which received four 2008 Tony Awards (including Best Orchestrations, Best Choreography and Best Musical), with Lin-Manuel receiving a Tony Award for Best Score as well as a nomination for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. Lin-Manuel is the recipient of the 2009 Grammy Award for In The Heights Original Broadway Cast Album and was named a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Following In The Heights, Miranda contributed new songs to the revival of Stephen Schwartz's Working, collaborated with Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim on Spanish translations for the 2009 Broadway Revival of West Side Story, and most recently, partnered with Jeff Whitty, Tom Kitt and Amanda Green for the highly-anticipated new show Bring It On: The Musical, now embarking on a national tour. Lin-Manuel's TV and film credits include "The Electric Company", "Sesame Street", "The Sopranos", "House", "Modern Family", "The Sex and the City Movie" and the upcoming "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" and "200 Cartas."
Colin Donnell (Franklin Shepard) is currently starring on Broadway as Billy Crocker in in Anything Goes. His credits include the Broadway production of Jersey Boys and the off-Broadway productions of Meet Me in St. Louis and Almost Heaven: The Songs of John Denver. Colin played as Young Ben in the Encores! production of Follies.
Celia Keenan-Bolger (Mary Flynn) was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and played Eponine in the Broadway revival of Les Miserables. She has appeared off-Broadway in Little Fishes at Second Stage, Kindertransport at Manhattan Theatre Club and Summer of '42 at Goodspeed Opera House. Celia was last seen at City Center in the Encores! production of Juno.
Betsy Wolfe (Beth) played Mary Ann Singleton in the world premiere of Tales of the City, based on Armistead Maupin's novels, with music by the Scissor Sisters. She was seen on Broadway in Everyday Rapture and 110 in the Shade at Studio 54, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and A Wonderful Life.
James Lapine (Director) wrote the books for and directed Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Passion and the recent multi-media revue Sondheim on Sondheim. He collaborated with William Finn on March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland, later presented on Broadway as Falsettos, as well as A New Brain, Muscle and the soon-to-be-produced Little Miss Sunshine. His directing credits include Merrily We Roll Along at the La Jolla Playhouse in California in 1985, and the Broadway productions of Golden Child, The Diary of Anne Frank, Dirty Blonde, Amour and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
Rob Berman (Music Director) is entering his fifth season as music director of Encores!, where he has conducted Where's Charley?, Lost in the Stars, Bells Are Ringing, Anyone Can Whistle, Fanny, Finian's Rainbow, Music in the Air, Damn Yankees, Applause and Stairway to Paradise, as well as several gala concerts. Broadway conducting credits include Finian's Rainbow, Irving Berlin's White Christmas, The Pajama Game, The Apple Tree, Wonderful Town and Promises, Promises, among others. He is a three-time Emmy nominee for his work as music director of the Kennedy Center Honors and a winner of the Helen Hayes Award for Best Musical Direction for his work on the Kennedy Center's production of Sunday in the Park with George. He was also music director for A Broadway Celebration: In Performance at the White House.
Dan Knechtges (Musical Staging) directed and choreographed the acclaimed off Broadway production of Lysistrata Jones, which is opening on Broadway in December. His previous Broadway credits include Xanadu (Tony nomination, Best Choreography), Sondheim on Sondheim, 110 in The Shade and The 25th Annual Putnum County Spelling Bee. He has directed and choreographed for numerous theaters across the country and internationally on shows ranging from Gilbert and Sullivan to Rodgers and Hammerstein to Brecht.
The 2012 Encores! season is made possible, in part, by the Stephanie and Fred Shuman Fund for Encores!, Stacey and Eric Mindich, and Daryl and Steven Roth. In addition, Encores! is supported by Newman's Own Foundation. Paul Newman was committed to helping make the world a better place. To carry on his philanthropic legacy, Newman's Own Foundation donates to charity all net royalties and profits after taxes from the sale of Newman's Own products. To date, Paul Newman and Newman's Own Foundation have given over $300 million to thousands of charities around the world. For more information, visit www.newmansownfoundation.org.
Merrily We Roll Along is generously supported by Douglas S. Cramer and Hugh Bush, Perry and Marty Granoff, and The Shen Family Foundation.
New York City Center (Arlene Shuler, President & CEO) has played a defining role in the cultural life of the city for more than 60 years. It was Manhattan's first performing arts center, dedicated by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in 1943 with a mission to make the best in music, theater and dance accessible to all audiences. Today, City Center is home to many distinguished companies, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Manhattan Theatre Club; a roster of renowned national and international visiting artists; and its own critically acclaimed and popular programs. The Tony-honored Encores! musical theater series has been hailed as "one of the very best reasons to be alive in New York." Dance has been integral to the theater's mission from the start, and dance programs, including the annual Fall for Dance Festival and a partnership with London's Sadler's Wells Theatre, remain central to City Center's identity. City Center is dedicated to providing educational opportunities to New York City students and teachers with programs such as Encores! In Schools and the Young People's Dance Series. Special workshops cater to families, seniors and other groups, while events such as the Fall for Dance DanceTalk series offer learning opportunities to the general public. City Center recently completed an extensive renovation project to revitalize and modernize its historic theater.
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: Wed. 2/15 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.