BWW Review: MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG MOVIE PREMIERE at Cinema Arts Centre Huntington

BWW Review: MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG MOVIE PREMIERE at Cinema Arts Centre Huntington

Before Broadway's "Hamilton" composer Lin-Manuel Miranda was the name on everybody's lips, Stephen Sondheim dominated the title of leading composer and lyricist in the 1970's and 1980's. After having both critical and commercial success with the Broadway musicals "Company," "Follies," "A Little Night Music," "Pacific Overtures," and "Sweeney Todd," "Merrily We Roll Along," starring a gaggle of fresh and talented youngsters opened at the Alvin Theater on November 16, 1981 and closed after fifty-two previews and sixteen regular performances. At the time, the show was the most anticipated amongst the Broadway community and the most panned by the critics on opening night. Only the score received a Tony Award nomination and still ranks as one of the composer's best.

A brilliant new documentary about the creation and backstage drama of the troubled Broadway musical was recently shown at the friendly Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington. "Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened," directed by Broadway actor turned director Lonny Price, is a marvelous behind the scenes recollection of his and his fellow cast members' pre-Broadway, on Broadway, and post-Broadway showbiz adventure. "Merrily We Roll Along" was the last collaboration of Sondheim and producer turned director Hal Prince who is responsible for bringing us "West Side Story," "Fiddler On The Roof," "Cabaret," "Evita" and more.

Lost television footage, home movies and photos, and interviews given by everyone involved in the Broadway production paint a backstage picture of what possibly could have gone wrong with the show and why it closed so quickly. As the press harped on the bad backstage buzz, people left in droves during previews, and changes in actors and costumes were made, nothing saved the show that focused on three friends

told in reverse from finish to start. The troublesome book that was hard for the theatergoers to follow did however sandwich some of Sondheim's best tuners such as "Not A Day Goes By," "Now You Know," and "Old Friends."

BWW Review: MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG MOVIE PREMIERE at Cinema Arts Centre Huntington
Original Broadway Cast Left to Right:
David Loud, Paul Hyams, Mana Allen

As time went on, the Broadway cast recovered and moved on to future projects both in and out of show business including Jason Alexander who will forever be known as George Costanza on television's "Seinfeld." Both Sondheim and Prince rebounded as well and created more glorious musicals individually and even one more together in 2003. Lonnie Price went from starring in 1981's biggest flop musical to directing Glenn Close in this Broadway season's biggest hit "Sunset Boulevard."

Numerous revised productions and recordings of "Merrily We Roll Along" popped up all over the world since 1981. The few who saw the show witnessed Broadway history and those apart of the show will never forget creating it. The Cinema Arts Centre luckily hosted three of the Broadway stars for a talkback after the movie. Cast members Marianna Allen, Paul Hyams, David Loud, as well as their colleagues certainly have a lot of Broadway memories and this magnificent film shares them for all to celebrate and reflect.


For more information and upcoming shows at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, Long Island please visit: or give them a call: (631)-423-7611

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