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Merrily We Roll Along (1981)

Compositeur: Stephen Sondheim

Parolier: Stephen Sondheim

Librettiste: George Furth

Furth and Sondheim retained the basic structure and overall theme of the play but updated it to encompass the period from 1957 to 1976. The story revolves around Franklin Shepard who, having once been a talented composer of Broadway musicals, has now abandoned his friends and his songwriting career to become a producer of Hollywood flicks. Like the play, the musical begins at the height of his Hollywood fame and moves backwards in time, showing snapshots of the most important moments in Frank's life that shaped the man that he is today.

Généralités: Histoire, thèmes et particularités

Résumé

Tells of a composer's descent from decent and virtuous youth to wayward and greedy middle-age. The show is given an extra twist by being told in reverse chronology. It is 1980. Hollywood producer and songwriter, Franklin Shepard, addresses the graduating class of his former high school. His world-weary advice provokes the students into presenting the cautionary tale of Franklin's extraordinary life and career. Together with his best friends, Mary and Charley, Franklin travels back to his own graduation in 1957.

Synopsis complet

 

Historique du musical

Génèse du musical

Background and original production
Prince's wife, Judy, had been "nagging" him to do a musical about teenagers, when he recalled the play Merrily We Roll Along. Sondheim said that since the play was about friendships, he wrote the songs to be interconnected. The original choreographer, Ron Field, wanted to work with Prince. The decision was made to cast teenagers, and to have tryouts in New York rather than out-of-town. The tryouts, beginning on October 8, 1981, had a poor reception, with audiences walking out. On October 21, 1981 The New York Times reported that the original leading man, James Weissenbach, had been replaced by Jim Walton and the Broadway opening had been postponed. Field was replaced with choreographer Larry Fuller. The opening was delayed a second time, from November 9 to November 16, 1981.

The Broadway production, directed by Prince and choreographed by Fuller, opened on November 16, 1981 at the Alvin Theatre. The show opened to mostly negative reviews. While the score was widely praised, critics and audiences alike felt that the book was problematic and the themes left a sour taste in their mouths. Hampered by the several critical reviews published prior to its official opening, as well as more negative ones published afterwards, it ran for only 16 performances and 52 previews. In his New York Times review Frank Rich wrote "As we all should probably have learned by now, to be a Stephen Sondheim fan is to have one's heart broken at regular intervals." Clive Barnes wrote, "Whatever you may have heard about it – go and see it for yourselves. It is far too good a musical to be judged by those twin kangaroo courts of word of mouth and critical consensus."

At the time, the musical was staged in such a way that the audience was confused and had trouble following what was going on in the story. Consequently, the actors all ended up infamously wearing sweatshirts with their characters' names on the front.

The cast included Jim Walton (Franklin Shepard), Lonny Price (Charley Kringas), Ann Morrison (Mary), Terry Finn (Gussie), Jason Alexander (Joe), Sally Klein (Beth), Geoffrey Horne (Franklin Shephard age 43), David Loud (Ted), Daisy Prince (Meg), Liz Callaway (Nightclub Waitress), Tonya Pinkins (Gwen), and Giancarlo Esposito (Valedictorian). Rosie O'Donnell auditioned; she was 18 years old.
Throughout the years, with Furth and Sondheim's blessing, the musical has been staged with numerous changes. Sondheim has contributed new songs to several of the show's incarnations, most notably "Growing Up".

San Diego
A production directed by James Lapine opened on June 16, 1985 at San Diego's La Jolla Playhouse, where it ran for 24 performances. The cast included John Rubinstein as Franklin Shepard, Chip Zien as Charley Kringas, Marin Mazzie as Beth and Heather MacRae as Mary Flynn. An Arena Stage production, directed by Douglas C. Wager and choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge, opened on January 30, 1990 at Washington, D.C.'s Kreeger Theater, where it ran slightly more than two months. The cast included Victor Garber, David Garrison, and Becky Ann Baker. In his review of the Arena Stage production, Rich noted that "Many of the major flaws of the 1981 Merrily, starting with its notorious gymnasium setting, have long since been jettisoned or rectified in intervening versions produced in La Jolla, Calif., and in Seattle." He called the score "exceptional."

Off-West End
A revised production, directed by Paul Kerryson, with orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick and musical direction by Julian Kelly, opened on April 14, 1992 at the Haymarket Theatre, Leicester, where it ran for three weeks. The cast included Michael Cantwell (Franklin), Maria Friedman (Mary), and Evan Pappas (Charlie), along with Jacqueline Dankworth, Louise Gold and Gareth Snook. A cast recording was released on a single CD in the UK in 1994 and, with extended cuts and dialogue, as a double-CD set in the US in 1997.

Off-Broadway
An Off-Broadway revival, directed by Susan H. Schulman, opened on May 26, 1994 at the York Theatre in St. Peter's Church, where it ran for 54 performances. The cast included Malcolm Gets, Ron Butler and Michele Pawk. A cast recording was released by Varèse Sarabande.

West End
The West End premiere, directed by Michael Grandage, opened on December 11, 2000 at the Donmar Warehouse, where it ran for 71 performances and eight previews. The cast included Mary Stockley. The production won Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Musical, Best Actor, and Best Actress.
The London Menier Chocolate Factory presented a revival directed by Maria Friedman in November 2012, transferring to the Harold Pinter Theatre in London's West End on 1 May 2013. This production won the Peter Hepple Award for Best Musical in the 2012 Critics' Circle Theatre Awards.

 

Détails

Liste des chansons

Act I
"Merrily We Roll Along" – Company
"Rich and Happy" – Franklin Shepard and Guests
"Merrily We Roll Along" (Reprise) – Company
"Like It Was" – Mary Flynn
"Franklin Shepard, Inc." – Charley Kringas
"Merrily We Roll Along" (Reprise) – Company
"Old Friends" – Franklin Shepard, Charley Kringas and Mary Flynn
"Merrily We Roll Along" (Reprise) – Company
"Not a Day Goes By" – Franklin Shepard
"Now You Know" – Mary Flynn and Company

Act II
"It's a Hit!" – Franklin Shepard, Mary Flynn, Charley Kringas and Joe
"Merrily We Roll Along" (Reprise) – Company
"Good Thing Going" – Charley Kringas and Franklin Shepard
"Merrily We Roll Along" (Reprise) – Company
"Bobby and Jackie and Jack" – Charley Kringas, Beth, Franklin Shepard and Ted
"Not a Day Goes By" (Reprise) – Franklin Shepard and Mary Flynn
"Opening Doors" – Franklin Shepard, Charley Kringas, Mary Flynn, Joe and Beth
"Our Time" – Franklin Shepard, Charley Kringas, Mary Flynn and Company
"The Hills of Tomorrow" – Company

1994 Off-Broadway Revival
From the 1994 Off-Broadway revival, which remains the current version: (sauf London 2012-13)
Act I
Overture – Orchestra
"Merrily We Roll Along" – Company
"That Frank" – Franklin Shepard and Guests
"First Transition" – Company
"Old Friends" (Part I) – Mary Flynn and Charley Kringas
"Like It Was" – Mary Flynn
"Franklin Shepard, Inc." – Charley Kringas
"Second Transition" – Company
"Old Friends" (Part II) – Mary Flynn, Franklin Shepard and Charley Kringas
"Growing Up" – Franklin Shepard and Gussie
"Third Transition" – Company
"Not a Day Goes By" – Beth
"Now You Know" – Mary Flynn and Company

Act II
Entr'acte – Orchestra
"Act Two Opening" – Gussie
"It's a Hit" – Franklin Shephard, Charley Kringas, Mary Flynn, Joe and Beth
"Fourth Transition" – Company
"The Blob" – Gussie and Company
"Growing Up" (Part II) – Gussie
"Good Thing Going" – Charley Kringas
"The Blob" (Part II) – Company
"Fifth Transition" – Company
"Bobby and Jackie and Jack" – Charley Kringas, Beth, Franklin Shephard and Pianist
"Not a Day Goes By" (Reprise) – Beth, Franklin Shephard and Mary Flynn
"Sixth Transition" – Company
"Opening Doors" – Franklin Shephard, Charley Kringas, Mary Flynn, Joe and Beth
"Seventh Transition" – Franklin Shephard Jr., Beth and Mrs. Spencer
"Our Time" – Franklin Shephard, Charley Kringas, Mary Flynn and Company
Exit Music – Orchestra

Textes disponibles on-line

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Versions du musical

Versions majeures de Merrily We Roll Along

Version 1

Merrily We Roll Along (1998-05-Prince Theatre-Outer London) (Revival)
Durée : 3 semaines
Nombre :
Première Preview : mercredi 27 mai 1998
Première : mercredi 27 mai 1998
Dernière : dimanche 21 juin 1998
Mise en scène : Nick Bligh
Chorégraphie : Darren Royston
Avec : Marcus Allen Cooper (Franklin Shepard), Marc Joseph (Charles Kringas), Tracy Wiles (Mary Flynn), Barbara Hastings, Suzi Pattison, Johnson Willis, Alison Brooks, Andy Chaplin, Andy Charal, Matthew Lessall, Polly Sands, Michelle Witton
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 2

Merrily We Roll Along (2000-12-Donmar Warehouse-London) (Revival)
Durée : 2 mois 3 semaines
Nombre : 8 previews - 79 représentations
Première Preview : vendredi 01 décembre 2000
Première : lundi 11 décembre 2000
Dernière : samedi 03 mars 2001
Mise en scène : Michael Grandage
Chorégraphie : Peter Darling
Avec : Grant Russell (Franklin Shepard), Julian Ovenden (Young Franklin Shepard), Daniel Evans (Charles Kringas), Samantha Spiro (Mary Flynn), Emma Jay Thomas, Anna Francolini, Shona White, David Lucas, Neil Gordon-Taylor, Dean Hussain, Matt Blair, James Millard, Mary Stockley, Zehra Naqvi, Lucy Bradshaw.
Commentaires :
This was the first full-scale production of the work in London and was greatly praised, receiving almost unanimous praise from the critics.
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Version 3

Merrily We Roll Along (2012-11-Menier Chocolate Factory-London) (Revival)
Durée : 3 mois 1 semaine
Nombre :
Première Preview : vendredi 16 novembre 2012
Première : mercredi 28 novembre 2012
Dernière : samedi 09 mars 2013
Mise en scène : Maria Friedman
Chorégraphie : Tim Jackson
Avec :
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Version 4

Merrily We Roll Along (2013-05-Harold Pinter Theatre-London) (Revival)
Durée : 2 mois 3 semaines
Nombre :
Première Preview : mardi 23 avril 2013
Première : mercredi 01 mai 2013
Dernière : samedi 27 juillet 2013
Mise en scène : Maria Friedman
Chorégraphie : Tim Jackson
Avec : Mark Umbers (Franklin Shepard), Damian Humbley (Charley Kringas), Jenna Russell (Mary Flynn), Josefina Gabrielle (Gussie Carnegie), Clare Foster (Beth Spencer), Glyn Kerslake (Joe Josephson), Zizi Strallen, Matthew Barrow, Martin Callaghan, Amanda Minihan, Amy Ellen Richardson, Robbie Scotcher, Kirk Patterson, Ashley Robinson, Joanna Woodward, Bob Harms, Julie Jupp, Elana Martin.
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Mais aussi, quelques versions régionales ou mineures, ... de Merrily We Roll Along

 

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