Backstage with Richard Ridge: Lonny Price Opens Up About the Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened
One of the truly legendary musicals in the history of Broadway, Merrily We Roll Along opened to enormous fanfare in 1981, and closed after sixteen performances. For the first time, Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened draws back the curtain on the extraordinary drama of the show's creation - and tells the stories of the hopeful young performers whose lives were transformed by it. Directed by Lonny Price, a member of the original cast, the film is a bittersweet meditation on the choices we all make, and the often unexpected consequences of those choices -- through success and failure. Featuring exclusive appearances by Stephen Sondheim, Hal Prince, Jason Alexander, Mandy Patinkin, Adam Guettel, Frank Rich and the original Broadway cast of Merrily We Roll Along.
Below, Richard Ridge chats with Price about his journey with the musical, the creation of the documentary, and so much more!
Lonny Price most recently directed Audra McDonald in a film version of Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill for HBO, in which she reprised the performance for which she won her record-breaking sixth Tony Award. His first feature film, "Master Harold"...and the Boys (starring Freddie Highmore and Ving Rhames) received the 2011 Best Drama Award at the New York International Film and Video Festival, as well as his receiving a Best Director of a Drama award. Additionally, he directed the filming of many of his stage productions, including Company (starring Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Colbert, Patti LuPone), Sondheim: The Birthday Concert (Emmy Award), Sweeney Todd (starring Emma Thompson; Emmy Award), Sweeney Todd (starring Patti LuPone; Emmy Award), and Candide (starring Patti LuPone and Kristen Chenoweth).
For the stage, Mr. Price's most recently directed Glenn Close in the London revival of Sunset Blvd. at the English National Opera, opening on Broadway early 2017. Previously, he directed Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, at the ENO, starring Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel after having staged the musical with the stars previously at Lincoln Center. His Broadway production of Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill starring Audra McDonald played the Wyndham Theater on the West End June of 2017. On Broadway he directed Audra McDonald in 110 in the Shade; Danny Glover in Athol Fugard's "Master Harold"...and the Boys; Joan Rivers in Sally Marr and Her Escorts (which he co-wrote with Rivers and Erin Sanders); Jenn Colella in Urban Cowboy; and himself in A Class Act, for which he also co-wrote the book (with Linda Kline) and was nominated for a Tony Award. Some of his off-Broadway work includes Visiting Mr Green, starring Eli Wallach; Beautiful Girls, starring Zoe Caldwell, and Athol Fugard's Valley Song. He made his opera directing debut at the Houston Grand Opera directing Audra McDonald in Poulenc's La Voix humaine and Michael John LaChiusa's Send.
As an actor, he has appeared on and off Broadway in a variety of plays and musicals including Merrily We Roll Along, "Master Harold"...and the boys, Burn This, A Class Act, for which he received Obie, Theatre World, and Drama-Logue Awards. On film, he is best remembered as Neil, the hotel owner's nerdy grandson, in Dirty Dancing.