There is no sadder story than the one told through deliciously upbeat song and dance. Merrily We Roll Along, a story of three friend’s lives, is a musical with a book by George Furth and lyrics and music by Stephen Sondheim. It is based on the 1934 play of the same name by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. The element that makes this musical different is that you begin at the ending of the story and the audience are sent back in time, year by year, scene by scene. I thoroughly enjoyed the setup of the Mary Moody Northen Theatre, which puts the stage in the middle of the audience instead of the audience only getting one view or experience.
Scott Shipman, playing the lead character of Frank Shepard, was adorable and perfect as his life regressed and he got younger and
more hopeful. His friend, Charley Kringas, played by Tyler Jones, was spot on from head to toe, from the look to the voice and his expressive personality. Charley’s song, Franklin Shepard, Inc. was performed with so much gusto and energy I’m surprised he didn’t get a standing ovation right then and there. Brittany Allyson as Mary Flynn, the third friend, the one who is in love with the lead, Frank, couldn’t be more perfect for the part even if she tried. You feel sadness for her yearning and yet the sass in which she delivers her jokes is priceless.
While the run time is almost 3 hours, you would never know it. There is so much visual and auditory stimulation I never felt that 3 hour sitting time. The costumes designs by Susan Branch Towne, made it extremely clear what year and space we were in and made for an easy transport into the story. Kathryn Eader, the lighting designer in this very unique space made this production dream-like.
Well worth the drive, oh, and the time, and the energy! Must-SEE!