First Act Theatre Arts to Present Stephen Sondheim's MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG

The production brings together students from 19 different area high schools.

By: Feb. 26, 2024
First Act Theatre Arts to Present Stephen Sondheim's MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG
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Youth theatrical arts studio First Act Theatre Arts will round out its Winter Season with Stephen Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along.

Twenty-three high school students from across the Kansas City metropolitan area have been working through the depth and complexity of the Sondheim musical since December and look forward to staging their production later this week at the Goppert Performing Arts Center at Avila University.

According to Artistic Director, Patrick Graham, "At First Act, we think there is a lot of value in presenting our students with the ability to perform in musicals that might not get produced by every youth theater company or high school theater department. We have the privilege of pulling talented students from across the metro area. Because of this, the students are not only talented, but eager to explore new and challenging material."

The story of Merrily We Roll Along revolves around the life and career of Franklin Shepard, a talented composer, and his two close friends, Mary Flynn and Charley Kringas. The unique narrative unfolds backward in time, starting with the characters in their adult lives and gradually revealing the events that shaped them. The musical explores themes of friendship, ambition, and the choices people make in pursuit of success.

Bringing together students from 19 different area high schools, this is not your typical youth production. In addition to the vibrant mix of talents on stage, First Act actively involves the families behind the scenes. From set design to costume creation, the production becomes a family affair, with parents and students contributing their time and creativity.

"When our kids started First Act this was supposed to be their activity, but what we never expected is all the incredible friendships we have made with other parents by working on these shows!" John and Ginger Burns have worked on 23 First ACT Productions with their kids. John said, "We love how each of us has our own community when we work backstage. Ginger with the makeup moms and me with fellow techy parents. Even our two girls who have aged out of First Act will come and help us in our area and it's so much fun for our whole family."

First Act's production is more than just a musical; it's a collective effort that extends beyond the stage, creating a sense of community that goes beyond the students themselves. "This inclusive approach not only enriches the production with diverse perspectives but also strengthens the bonds within our extended First Act family," said Executive Director, Grant Golson. "It's a celebration of collaboration, creativity, and the wonderful story that comes together when students and their families join forces to bring a unique and unforgettable performance to life."

Merrily We Roll Along will be presented with a live pit orchestra of 12 musicians. This group is a combination of parents, volunteers from the community, professional musicians, and even one current First Act student. According to Graham, First Act has made it a mission to present at least one regular season production with a live pit orchestra. "It not only raises the quality of the production, it is a unique and exciting experience for our students to work with talented musicians, and it provides a training opportunity for students who want to pursue performing in musical theater on a professional level."

Don't miss the opportunity to see this unique, complex and thought-provoking production of Merrily We Roll Along February 29th through March 3rd at Goppert Performing Arts Center at Avila University.

For more information, visit or contact First Act Theatre Arts at (913) 681-3318.