Entertainment :: Theatre

’Good Thing Going’ - Hit London ’Merrily’ to US Theaters

by Michael  Cox
Contributor
Tuesday Sep 3, 2013
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A much-admired London production of the musical Merrily We Roll Along by Stephen Sondheim-George Furth will screen in theaters for a worldwide cinema event, one night only, on Oct. 23, announced the movie’s producers and distributors. Stephen Sondheim himself called this show, "As close to perfection as a production can get."

Featuring some of Sondheim’s most beautiful and memorable songs, the show has not returned to Broadway since its notorious failure in 1981.

Directed by Maria Friedman and originally produced at the Menier Chocolate Factory before moving to the West End, this production is said to have received more 5-star reviews from the theatrical press than any other show in West End history and won the 2012 Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical.

The cast features several veterans of British theater, Mark Umbers, Jenna Russell and Damian Humbley. In 2008, Russell was a Tony nominee for the Broadway run of "Sunday in the Park with George".

Told in reverse chronological order over the period of 20 years, the play follows Franklin Shepard, a man of financial success and personal failure. A talented composer of Broadway musicals, Shepard has abandoned his songwriting career to produce movies.

The plot takes two of Shepard’s destroyed friendships to their idealistic and hopeful beginning, ending with the three friends on the rooftop of their old apartment building dreaming of their future.


The musical was based on the 1934 play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, which got good reviews but failed financially due to its enormous production with 91 actors.

The pared down musical, staged by Hal Prince, used minimal costuming and was cast entirely with teen-agers. Audiences enjoyed the music but were confused by the book. This led dressing all the actors in sweatshirts with their character names on them. The show closed after 16 performances.

Subsequently the show has gone through multiple iterations and Sondheim has contributed new songs along the way, but none seem to be as successful as this acclaimed West End production.

"This production of ’Merrily We Roll Along’ is not only the best I’ve seen," said Sondheim in a statement accompanying the news release, "but one of those rare instances where casting, direction and show come together in perfect combination, resulting in the classic ideal of the sum being greater than the parts."

This broadcast, part of The West End Theatre Series will be the first time that productions from the West End’s leading commercial theatre producers are available in High Definition as a global cinema series.

Tickets go on sale Sept. 13 for screenings in major cities across the United States at fathomevents.com.


Watch a trailer for the broadcast:


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