Review Roundup: Menier Chocolate Factory's MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG - All the Reviews!

MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG began performances 16 November 2012 - 23 February 2013.
Stephen Sondheim and George Furth, with triple Olivier award winner Maria Friedman are making her professional directorial debut at the Chocolate Factory.

Playing the lead roles are Damian Humbley (The Last 5 Years; Little Shop of Horrors) as Charley Kringas, Olivier award winner and Tony nominee Jenna Russell (Sunday in the Park with George) as Mary Flynn and Mark Umbers (Sweet Charity) as Franklin Shepard. Olivier nominee Josefina Gabrielle (Sweet Charity) returns to the Menier to play the role of Gussie Carnegie along with Glyn Kerslake (Road Show) who plays Joe Josephson.

Also cast are Clare Foster (Crazy For You) playing Beth Spencer and Zizi Strallen (Rock of Ages) who will play Meg Kincaid. In addition, the cast includes Matthew Barrow, Martin Callaghan, Clare Foster, Josefina Gabrielle, Glyn Kerslake, Samantha Mercer, Noah Miller, Amanda Minihan, Kirk Patterson, Amy Ellen Richardson, Ashley Robinson, Tommy Rodger, Robbie Scotcher, Zizi Strallen, Joseph West, Joanna Woodward

Let's see what the critics had to say:

Mark Shenton of says:  Most heartbreaking of all is Mary, the writer friend whose unrequited love for Frank defines her life, played with spellbinding yearning by Russell. Playing another trio of the women that Frank variously has romantic relationships with instead - his first and second wives Beth and Gussie, and mistress Meg - Clare Foster, Josefina Gabrielle and Zizi Strallen respectively pitch them perfectly. Gabrielle, particularly, is a show-stopping revelation in the effortless but skin-deep sophistication of a Broadway star who has grasped her way to the top from being a producer’s secretary to his wife, and then dumps him for Frank.

Charles Spencer of The Telegraph has this to say:  If ever a show illustrated the truth that musicals aren’t so much written as rewritten it is Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along.... If the musical has a fault it is that it sometimes seems a little too neat and schematic, in a way that Pinter’s Betrayal with its ache of love and remembrance never does. Sondheim doesn’t dig as deep. But as a piece of craftsmanship Merrily We Roll Along dazzles, from the opening acidly depicted Hollywood party, when the characters’ dreams and friendship have curdled, to the poignant hope of their first meeting.

Michael Billington of The Guardian comments:  Now comes a superb production by Maria Friedman, astonishingly making her directorial debut, that makes you wonder how anyone could ever have doubted its quality... What I love about this show is that Sondheim's technical brilliance is harnessed to emotional needs; and that is the point on which Friedman has avidly seized. Instead of fretting about the characters' reverse-ageing, she focuses on the detail of their relationships...

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