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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)

rg7759
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#51
Posted: 1/18/19 at 3:26pm
Does anyone else feel the shortening of shows to not have intermission says 'we hate our audiences and we don't feel like hiding it anymore'?
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#53
Posted: 1/18/19 at 7:55pm

rg7759 said: "Does anyone else feel the shortening of shows to not have intermission says 'we hate our audiences and we don't feel like hiding it anymore'?"

No. Just you. 

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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#54
Posted: 1/19/19 at 12:01am

I have a question. One of the things that has always bugged me about the rewritten version (and even though the Friedman Merrily was a vast improvement on any production of the "new" Merrily I've ever seen, it still didn't land well for me) was the incorporating Scenes Two and Three (TV Studio and restaurant) into one scene.  That Frank hauls off and tries to punch Charlie right after Charlie's televised breakdown.  Charlie clearly does not do this maliciously. He can't help himself.  Now, as the years go by I can see the gulf widening and widening between them and Frank's memory of this awful interview turning into a betrayal. But not right away. Frank is more confused by his old buddy's blubberings. I argue such intense anger wouldn't manifest right away.  Plus, if I remember there is a great Charlie/Mary scene we lose with the rewrite.  Or else the scene doesn't hit as well with the rewritten fight scene.

But my question is, in the Roundabout version does Charlie and Frank's friendship end after "Franklin Shephard Inc"?

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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#55
Posted: 1/19/19 at 1:40am

This version reinstates the Charlie/Mary restaurant scene, so that Frank has time to reflect and stew after the TV interview.  And it works much better.

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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#56
Posted: 1/19/19 at 4:12am

uncageg said: "I never got why the backwards storyline was such a big deal/problem. I followed it just fine."

Following the plot backwards was never the issue. There's so little plot, as it is.

The issue is what is gained by going backward v. what is lost (all suspense). In plays such as Pinter's BETRAYAL, going backward is justified because there is always something to be learned in seeing what preceded the scene we are watching now.

Not so much with MERRILY which--glorious score notwithstanding--really isn't about anything. So Frank concentrated on producing instead of composing? Don't we need producers as well as composers in the theater? Neither of his wives has enough depth that I care whom he married or why.

So Frank didn't maintain all the close friendships he had when he was 20. Who does?

 

Updated On: 1/19/19 at 04:12 AM
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#57
Posted: 1/19/19 at 4:38am

christinelavin said: "...
I just know I was unmoved, and that could never have been the intent of anyone connected to this production.

"

In my opinion, MERRILY has never been moving except for a few moments: Mary's third of "Not a Day Goes By" and the end of the show, which has enough unironic nostalgia for almost anyone over the age of 24. The songs are glorious, no argument, and the process of going backward gave Sondheim interesting challenges to solve (e.g., reprises happening before the main number).

But the fact of going backward means we are left with one relationship to the characters and action: dramatic irony. And one feeling: "this isn't going to work out like they (the characters) think it will." That could be moving for a moment or two, but not for 2.5 (in the original) hours.

Just be glad you didn't also have to sit through it with teenaged, amateur actors (again, a couple of whom were quite good).

 

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LucyEth
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#59
Posted: 1/21/19 at 4:57pm

SPOILERS AHEAD

JBroadway: Apologies for taking so long to get back to you, have been busy with Life!

For me, by cutting unnecessary characters and events -- no-one invents the phone machine, there's no Frank Jr., no lawyer Jerome -- this production clarifies what's important about the story, and that's the relationship between these three people.  There's a poignancy to the "Old Friends" section of "It's a Hit" that never hit me before, in part because we heard "Old Friends" 15 minutes prior, not 40 minutes prior (including an intermission).  The musical echoes and references (and cross references etc.) resonate more for me because there's less other gratuitous material getting in the way.  In other words, the musical Easter eggs, so vital to ones understanding of the score, land better because there's less book.  I think that director Noah Brody has done a marvelous job of very clearly guiding the audience through the destruction of this friendship, and in such a way that justifies why we're being told the story backwards.  And the addition of the framing device at the top helps tremendously.  When Frank says, "I'd give anything to go back and do it all over again" we then go into his mind and see him relive it all...and that just makes sense to me.  I fear I'm not being as articulate as I'd like to be, these being thoughts off the top of my head.

Also, I've always thought that the blinding of Meg (taken from the original Kaufman & Hart play) is just too violent a beginning, one that leaves the audience thinking, "What the Hell!" and makes it very hard for them to recover and ever like the people onstage.  I don't miss it one bit.

 

 

 

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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#60
Posted: 1/23/19 at 10:19am

This production was alright. I enjoyed it for what it was, but Merrily is very precious to me and a lot of these changes were a total "yikes". I think it had some really smart moments (loved The Blob, the dance where Mary sobers up, and even appreciated the slower Now You Know beginning). But it didn't quite hit me me in the feels. More so... it hit me over the head with its themes over and over. I appreciate the idea of picking and choosing what you want from the new book and the old book (and apparently also the play it was based off of), but I think it was done just for the sake of it. 

Frank just wasn't a Frank to me. He did not ooze charisma. I saw no reason why anyone wanted to be with him. His relationships with everyone was really lacking. Charlie was fine but seemed a little lost. I thought the girls were pretty good, but it felt like they were being rushed. 

I think what I'm mostly upset about is that they stripped the show of all of its subtlety. I don't like the "Rich and Happy" beginning because it really brings the theme a bit too far imo -- Frank may be a sell out, but it doesn't mean he has to be bad at it. He just chose a different path. I think Merrily works best when you realize it's a show about making choices and prioritizing what you want (cue Gussie), and that small choices can bring you far from where you expected. "That Frank" sets the scene for the path that he ended up in, but "Rich and Happy" says you have to follow the artist's path to be happy. It's stuff like this that was apparent throughout the revisions.

IAMREADING said: "rich and happy" and "the blob" were fun. also "joe" reminded me of paul f tompkins during the beginning."

Big props to someone who know who Paul F Thompkins is on BWW. I know he's LA based, but Encores should book him for a musical comedy. He'd be stellar. 

rg7759 said: "Does anyone else feel the shortening of shows to not have intermission says 'we hate our audiences and we don't feel like hiding it anymore'?"

No I think it is producers realizing that people want to get home before 11. 

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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#61
Posted: 1/23/19 at 10:28pm

I was at this evenings performance, and Sondheim was in attendance.

I REALLY enjoyed it. After hating Fiascos Woods, I was nervous about this, but I thought it was very well done and a complete improvement over their Woods.
For the first time, I felt the story was clear and finally made sense. The transitions arent missed, and the backwards time travel is handled with clarity and depth.

I do wish the show began with some introductory notes rather than the piano chords of the title song. I wouldve also enjoyed hearing the full title song, this version was very truncated. Gemignanis new orchestrations and arrangements are generally well done but they take time getting used to as many moments are drastically different from what we know.
Not A Day Goes By was far too rushed, I get Beth is singing it with urgency in the moment, but the song should be a standout. The new Now You Know was more shocking than I expected. Marys section was great, but I wouldve liked if the song felt more complete and I missed many of the lyrics of the versions we know. I could settle for it not being the bombastic act one finale, but I wouldve liked to hear more of it and some of the missing lyrics.
Also, I really missed Mary’s “These are the movers, these are the shapers” moment  in “Rich and Happy.” 


Performances are generally very strong, and the cast works wonders together as an ensemble and team. For the first time, I felt Gussie having such a large presence finally made sense. Emily Young delivers a spot on portrayal but her vocals were underwhelming tonight, she was possibly under the weather.

I loved the standard Fiasco quirkiness and inventiveness throughout the staging, and the choreography perfectly matched the directors vision.

There were so many moments in the book that I had never heard before, as there is materials from drafts and the original play. The new material added more depth to Beths role, which I enjoyed.
This is definitely the best version of the book that Ive seen on stage.
Musically, this isnt the best Merrily, but overall after seeing Encores! and Mara Friedmans filmed version, this is the best overall version of the show that Ive personally seen. Musically, all of the various cast recordings provide a more enjoyable experience.

I hope the critics like this production, and if they do, I can definitely see Roundabout transferring it.

also, I apologize quotations and apostrophes don’t post when I type from my phone on here lately. 

Updated On: 1/23/19 at 10:28 PM
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#62
Posted: 1/23/19 at 10:54pm

GavestonPS said: "uncageg said: "I never got why the backwards storyline was such a big deal/problem. I followed it just fine."

Following the plot backwards was never the issue. There's so little plot, as it is.

The issue is what is gained by going backward v. what is lost (all suspense). In plays such as Pinter's BETRAYAL, going backward is justified because there is always something to be learned in seeing what preceded the scene we are watching now.

Not so much with MERRILY which--glorious score notwithstanding--really isn't about anything. So Frank concentrated on producing instead of composing? Don't we need producers as well as composers in the theater? Neither of his wives has enough depth that I care whom he married or why.

So Frank didn't maintain allthe close friendships he had when he was 20. Who does?


"

I didn't find any of those things to be an "issue". We went back In time and saw what they did   before they got to where they were at the top of the show. I enjoyed it. 

 

Just give the world Love.
Updated On: 1/23/19 at 10:54 PM
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#63
Posted: 1/26/19 at 1:19pm

Ticket sales seem strong. Any chance of an extension?

"Itís the fractured quality in [Bernadette Peters'] singing voice and line readings that puts across the character as someone for whom resentment is sliding into madness." - NYtimes on Follies (2011).
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#64
Posted: 1/26/19 at 6:58pm
If the critics rave, I can honestly see Roundabout transferring this to be Merrilys first Broadway revival. It would fit like a glove in the American Airlines.
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#65
Posted: 2/10/19 at 3:58pm

My first production of Merrily.  I appreciated the streamlined show even though I don't know any better. It was fast-moving and engaging, helped strongly by bright and clear sound. 

Some questions/comments for those who know more and can offer some insights.

Bobby and Jackie and Jack--why leave this while cutting/shortening other elements that helped the story or were just better songs (subjective, I know)?

I thought the book largely suppressed the theme of one-upmanship (kid vs. adult, lyricist vs. composer, even wife vs. mistress). To me this stripped some valuable tension from the show.

Choreography: at times ambivalent or awkward (looking kinda wobbly up on the chairs). The Blob was fun though, along with some other bits I don't recall.

Brittany B. as Beth etc. was a joy throughout. Ben S. as Frank: I would have preferred sexy with a sheen of sleaze. Manu N. as Charley was consistently strong in voice and presence. 

Thinking about going again sometime after opening night.

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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#66
Posted: 2/10/19 at 4:09pm
Is there an in person rush for this?
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#67
Posted: 2/19/19 at 6:12pm

Not sure about general rush, but there's half price student rush a half hour before curtain. 

 

Reviews tonight!


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