Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)

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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#1
Posted: 1/11/19 at 10:03pm
The new revival of Merrily We Roll Along begins previews at the Laura Pels Theatre at Roundabout tomorrow night. This production is put together by the Fiasco Theatre Company.

I believe that the invited dress was tonight. Anyone there?
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#2
Posted: 1/11/19 at 10:41pm
The backwards story telling is interesting....hopefully it goes on tour. Any other backwards storytelling type musical you can think of?
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#3
Posted: 1/11/19 at 10:54pm
I have a ticket tomorrow night, but Im probably not the best person to give a review
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#4
Posted: 1/11/19 at 11:43pm
I am tempted to go but am fine with the City Center production. It is the only one I have seen and enjoyed it.
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#5
Posted: 1/11/19 at 11:47pm
Somehow this has been totally off my radar. Will be interested in reports. Im a fan of Sondheims music, but have only managed to see one live theatrical performance of his work (Barrow Streets Sweeney Todd). I know this musical has received mixed response within the theatrical community in the past so will be very interested in reports from the previews. My dance card is already overflowing with more shows than I have room for during my February work trip, but I might have to make room for this if early reports are strong.
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#6
Posted: 1/11/19 at 11:54pm

I'm taking a friend to see it in April.  She goes to a fair amount of musical theater but has almost no knowledge of Merrily--is the backwards storyline something I should tell her about beforehand, or something to let her figure out for herself?

Looking forward to seeing what reactions this production gets, especially with the Fiasco company.

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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#7
Posted: 1/11/19 at 11:56pm
I never got why the backwards storyline was such a big deal/problem. I followed it just fine.
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#8
Posted: 1/12/19 at 12:04am

antonijan said: "The backwards story telling is interesting....hopefully it goes on tour. Any other backwards storytelling type musical you can think of?"

“The Last Five Years” comes to mind. 

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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#9
Posted: 1/12/19 at 9:56pm

So I was there tonight, but like I said earlier, Im a terrible person to give a review. I have no real experience with the material or previous productions.

I did think this was pretty good. Strong voices all around. It did start to drag a bit towards the end. Saw several people around me checking their watches or ask what time it was. Everyone Jessie Austrian as Mary and Emily Young as Gussie were the two stand outs for me. And Manu Narayan singing Franklin Shepard, Inc. was by far the biggest crowd pleaser of the night. Took a picture of the stage if anyone was curious
https://imgur.com/a/Y0ckhlK

Updated On: 1/12/19 at 09:56 PM
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#10
Posted: 1/12/19 at 10:06pm
Cool stage pic. Looking forward to more reports.
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#11
Posted: 1/12/19 at 10:37pm
Im hoping WhizzerMarvin was there tonight, maybe crafting a review right now.
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#12
Posted: 1/12/19 at 10:45pm
Love the Alvin sign.
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#13
Posted: 1/13/19 at 12:11am

Thanks for the pic! Is there a small band or just a piano? Based on the podium in the pic, it looks like they're going back to the "Hills of Tomorrow" graduation theme, but I was under the impression that Sondheim doesn't usually allow that. 

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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#14
Posted: 1/13/19 at 12:12am

Well, the podium makes me think they're starting it with "Hills of Tomorrow"/graduation scene!

 

(edit:  ha, ljay beat me to it!)

Updated On: 1/13/19 at 12:12 AM
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#15
Posted: 1/13/19 at 12:15am

Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019) Glad I'm not the only one really curious about that!

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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#16
Posted: 1/13/19 at 12:22am

Pic of the band setup/list on Instagram:

Piano, 2 Reeds, 2 Trumpets, Guitar, Bass, Drums

Also "Merrily will be performed without an intermission"! 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BsjeLyvD8gx/

Updated On: 1/13/19 at 12:22 AM
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#17
Posted: 1/13/19 at 12:38am

Yes there was a full band. The podium is just at the beginning with Frank speaking at a graduation. He speaks about being 43 but still feeling like hes 18. Like I said I am unfamiliar with past productions so hopefully that helps. Its a short scene and then it transitions to the party after Franks movie premiere.

also yes no intermission. That may be why it seemed to drag towards the end. I thought there was an intermission so I was expecting it to come and the show just kept going. I finally figured it out 

Updated On: 1/13/19 at 12:38 AM
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#18
Posted: 1/13/19 at 12:43am

Thanks for info! I am relieved that there is an actual band, unlike their production of Woods.

I am not sure what to think of no intermission, Merrily isn't a quick show.

In regards to the graduation speech, do you recall if there was a graduation song (The Hills of Tomorrow)? Or was it just the speech throughout the opening/title song.

Also, was there an overture?

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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#19
Posted: 1/13/19 at 12:50am

ljay889 said: "Thanks for info! I am relieved that there is an actual band, unlike their production of Woods.

I am not sure what to think of no intermission, Merrily isn't a quick show.

In regards to the graduation speech, do you recall if there was a graduation song (The Hills of Tomorrow)? Or was it just the speech throughout the opening/title song.

Also, was there an overture?
"

I don’t recall their being any song associated with the graduation speech, and glancing at the playbill confirms that. No overture either. Here’s a picture of the scenes/musical numbers from the playbill

https://imgur.com/a/1zP6gCX

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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#20
Posted: 1/13/19 at 12:53am

Thank you! Wow, "Rich and Happy" instead of "That Frank." I am surprised Sondheim allowed that. 

I am definitely gaining more interest in this production now. 

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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#21
Posted: 1/13/19 at 2:32am
Interesting song list. I had assumed the Encores version of the score would be what is used moving forward. Excited to hear other reports!
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#22
Posted: 1/13/19 at 7:35am
Well at least visually this looks better than what I was expecting.
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#23
Posted: 1/13/19 at 8:12am

Thanks for posting this info. We have tickets in April and I'm excited!  What's the current running time? 

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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#24
Posted: 1/13/19 at 9:39am

The show begins with the cast wandering casually on stage--house lights are still up--selecting costume items from the attic-of-memory stage-set, chatting with the audience, etc.  Very Fiasco. The charming Jessie Austrian (Mary) welcomed us and told us to unwrap our candies and then the show began, with Ben Steinfeld taking his place behind the podium and everybody else finding a place to sit among the nooks and crannies of the on-stage bric-a-brac.

Franklin is giving a speech and the crest on the podium suggests a commencement speech but there is no specific allusion to the context and no-one sings 'The Hills of Tomorrow'.

As always with 'Merrily'--or any Sondheim show--the familiar tunes sung by talented performers give me a thrill of delight and the show begins well, with 'Rich and Happy' presented in a typically boisterous, playful staging.  Snatches of dialog introduce us to the principal characters and the estrangement of our two leading men.  It's a small cast and the sense of a crowded Hollywood party might be lost on a first-timer, but the energy is high--as are the characters: the bursts of musical energy are preceded by everybody snorting lines of coke. 

And then we're off to the races, with the tale of friendship, betrayal, ambition and loss told in reverse chronological order.  The performances are strong and the 7-piece 'band' does a good job. If 'Merrily We Roll Along' is your favorite number in this show, be sure to listen hard in the first act, because that's it's one and only appearance--the reprises are all cut.  In general, the transitions have been tightened almost to the vanishing point, save for 1973/1968 (IIRC) which is a more extended ballet and includes a really nice bit of business in which Mary sobers up, slims down and really does get younger right in front of our eyes.

There is no intermission and yet the show *does* still drag a bit--any time the music stops.  The scene in in Beth's parents' apartment (1961) seemed long-ish.  It's meant to show us their youthful poverty and how idealistic and un-motivated by money the young Franklin was, but it could be shorter. 

As Schubox mentioned, 'Franklin Shephard Inc.' was the hit of the evening, with waves of sustained applause.  'Now you  know' was also terrific.  I was disappointed in the first appearance of 'Not a day goes by'.  Brittany Bradford (Beth) has a lovely voice, but the pacing seemed off to me, and the song didn't seem set up properly--it was somehow swallowed by the action around it. 

I've never had an issue with the show's chronology.  It's not difficult to follow and it gives Sondheim rich opportunities for the emotional ambivalence at which he is such a Master. Only Sondheim could write a straight-up love song like 'Not a Day Goes By' and then craft a show in which the lyrics are rendered so heartbreaking-ly sad. And 'Our Time'?  How does a song rife with optimism and the thrill of young dreams leave everybody (well, everybody within earshot of me last night) either sniffling or sobbing?  

Over-all, a solid B+/A-.  I will go again.

 

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Updated On: 1/13/19 at 09:39 AM
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Merrily We Roll Along Previews (2019)#25
Posted: 1/13/19 at 10:18am

amaklo said: "Thanks for posting this info. We have tickets in April and I'm excited! What's the current running time?"

Their site says 1 hour 45 mins, but I think it may have run a little longer. They started 5-10 mins late as well.