Review: MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG at 42nd Street Moon

Now through April 9th!

By: Mar. 27, 2023
Review: MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG at 42nd Street Moon
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Kudos to 42nd Street Moon for tackling Sondheim's challenging Merrily We Roll Along, a flop when introduced in 1981 but consistently reworked through the years to its present popularity (a Broadway run and film in the works). Its inventive story construction, running time backwards to span three decades of tumultuous friendships in showbiz, has been attempted both successfully and unsuccessfully over the years. It's now attained cult status and Moon's production allows us to see why the interest is warranted.

Merrily is Sondheim through and through. Not as complex as his other works, the score was written in a Broadway style current to the 1950s where the story begins. There are his signature reprises of sections of music which works wonderfully in the backward structure. "Not A Day Goes By" is used both as a bitter statement by Frank's ex-wife Beth then heard again in the 2nd act at their marriage. "Old Friends" and the title tune "Merrily We Roll Along" are repeated as well.

Will Giammona stars as Franklin Shepard, a talented theatre composer who abandons his friends for success as a movie producer. His marriage ends in divorce, he loses custody of his son and loses his moral compass. Mary (Melissa WolfKlain), a writer, is in love with Frank and becomes a mean drunk over time, bitter from unrequited love. DC Scarpelli chews up his scenes as Frank's original partner and lyricist Charlie Kringas. His scene where he loses it on a TV interview show is a smash.

Review: MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG at 42nd Street Moon
Will Giammona (Frank), Melissa WolfKlain (Mary) and DC Scarpelli (Charley)

Christine Capsuto-Shulman is a standout as Gussie, the vulgar, mean-spirited Broadway star who will do anything for success. Totally inhabiting her character, she owns the 2nd act when onstage. Julianna Lustenader plays Beth and gets the most classic tune of the play, "Not A Day Goes By". Of course, there's a typical Sondheim Greek chorus ensemble to flesh out the storylines.

Review: MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG at 42nd Street Moon
Christine Capsuto-Shulman (Gussie)

Merrily trods along in reverse time, told to us by a projected clock running in reverse and dates announced by the chorus. Brooke Jennings' costumes also tell us the time periods from the late fifties to mid-70's. Merrily demonstrates youthful dreams devolving to cynicism and resentment, a showbiz story played out countless times.

Merrily We Roll Along continues through April 9th. Tix available at 42nd Street Moon (vbotickets.com).

Photo credit: Ben Krantz Studio




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