Musical (1981)

Musique: Stephen Sondheim
Paroles: Stephen Sondheim
Livret: George Furth
Production à la création:

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.

Act I
In the present, Franklin Shepard is a rich, famous, and influential songwriter and film producer (Merrily We Roll Along). The years roll back.
In Frank's swank Los Angeles pad in 1976, after the premiere of his latest film, a party is in full swing. Frank's Hollywood peers are there, and bestow lavish praise on him (That Frank). His long-term friend and a theatre critic, Mary Flynn, who is now an alcoholic, is also at the party. She is disgusted by the people Frank has chosen to associate with and by his abandonment of music - the one thing he was truly good at - for the world of commercial film producing. Frank admits that his new film is just a formula picture, but he promises: just wait for the next film! But Mary has given up waiting, and becomes progressively more inebriated. She is ordered to leave after insulting everyone.
Frank is stung by Mary's rants, because he knows they are true. He has concentrated so completely on being a "success" that everything (and everyone) he most valued at the beginning of his career has gone. The evening ends traumatically with the breakup of Frank's marriage to his wife Gussie, a former leading actress in one of his early musicals, when she viciously attacks Meg, whom he has been seeing on the side.
Back to 1973 (Merrily We Roll Along – First Transition). Frank and his long-time friend and lyricist, Charley Kringas, are about to be interviewed in a New York TV studio. Mary greets Charley backstage (Old Friends), and Charley tells her that Frank never has time to write shows anymore with him. Mary wonders plaintively why can't their collective friendship be "Like it Was". When Frank finally arrives and the TV interview begins, a nervous Charley launches into a rampage on the way his composer has transformed himself into "Franklin Shepard Inc." Frank disowns Charley and walks out - their friendship is over.
It's 1968, and Mary, Charley and Frank are in Frank's apartment on Central Park West (Merrily We Roll Along – Second Transition). The two men fight over Frank's decision to do a movie version of one of their shows, Musical Husbands. Frank wants to do it for the money, but Charley says that it will get in the way of writing any new musicals for some time. Mary reminds them that they are all still old friends (Old Friends (Reprise)). But nothing is that simple anymore. The Broadway producer Joe Josephson and his wife Gussie arrive. She and Frank have been having an affair. When everyone leaves, Gussie shocks Frank by announcing that she intends to live with him and divorce Joe in the process (Growing Up).
On to 1966 (Merrily We Roll Along – Third Transition). Frank is being divorced by Beth, and they fight over the custody of their young son in a courthouse. Beth confesses to him that she can't live with him knowing he is cheating on her with Gussie (Not a Day Goes By). Frank is then consoled by Mary, Charley and his other remaining friends. His pals convince him to start anew, stating that this was the "best thing that ever could have happened" (Now You Know).

Act II
At the opening night of Musical Husbands, Gussie, having just discovered that Frank fancies her, is pondering what could come between the two of them (Act Two Opening). The scene transforms, and we see that Gussie is performing the song on-stage, as the star of Musical Husbands. Meanwhile, the curtain comes down on the show. As the audience applauds, Charley and Frank, who are backstage with Joe, Mary and Beth, realize they have a hit (It's a Hit!).
In 1962 (Merrily We Roll Along – Fourth Transition): at a party in Gussie and Joe's elegant Sutton Place apartment. Gussie has thrown a soirée so that Frank and Charley, who are going to write a musical for Joe to produce, can meet most influential people in town (The Blob). Pulling Frank away from the party-goers, Gussie convinces him to make his new musical, Musical Husbands, into a "big show" (Growing Up (Part II)). Returning to her guests, Gussie invites the songwriters to perform their latest song, "Good Thing Going". The guests love it. Gussie implores them to do an encore. Charley urges Frank not to, but Frank does so anyway. They play the song again, but the guests quickly lose interest and resume their noisy cocktail chatter (The Blob (Reprise)). Charley storms out.
Time turns back to 1960 (Merrily We Roll Along – Fifth Transition). Charley, Frank and Beth are young and beginning their careers, playing a small nightclub in Greenwich Village. Trying to appear bright and sophisticated, they perform a song celebrating America's new First Family (Bobby and Jackie and Jack). Joe is in the tiny audience and he's quite impressed, as is his wife Gussie, who is strongly attracted to Frank at this first meeting. After the show, Frank explains to them that he's marrying Beth, and the happy couple exchanges vows (Not a Day Goes By (Reprise)). At an adjoining table, Mary is distraught; she'll always feel something for Frank.
In 1959 (Merrily We Roll Along – Sixth Transition) Frank, Charley and Mary are busy in New York, working their way up the career ladder (Opening Doors). The men audition for Joe, but he wants more "hummable" tunes. So they decide to do their own show and in an ensuing musical montage, end up auditioning and hiring Beth and forming their small cabaret show together.
Finally, it is October 1957 (Merrily We Roll Along – Seventh Transition). Early in the morning, Frank, Charley and Mary are on the roof of an old apartment house on New York City's 110th Street, waiting for the first-ever earth-orbiting satellite. Suddenly, Sputnik is there in the sky, and now, for the young friends, anything is possible (Our Time).

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.

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.

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

Aucun dossier informatif complémentaire concernant Merrily We Roll Along

Aucun dossier informatif complémentaire concernant Merrily We Roll Along

Version 1

Merrily We Roll Along (1998-05-Prince Theatre-Outer London)

Type de série: Revival
Théâtre: Prince Theatre (Londres - Angleterre)
Durée : 3 semaines
Nombre :
Première Preview : 27 May 1998
Première: 27 May 1998
Dernière: 21 June 1998
Mise en scène : Nick Bligh
Chorégraphie : Darren Royston
Producteur :
Star(s) :
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

Version 2

Merrily We Roll Along (2000-12-Donmar Warehouse-London)

Type de série: Revival
Théâtre: Donmar Warehouse (Londres - Angleterre)
Durée : 2 mois 3 semaines
Nombre : 8 previews - 79 représentations
Première Preview : 01 December 2000
Première: 11 December 2000
Dernière: 03 March 2001
Mise en scène : Michael Grandage
Chorégraphie : Peter Darling
Producteur :
Star(s) :
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.

> 2000 Critics' Circle Award: Best Director (Michael Grandage)
> 2001 Laurence Olivier Award: Best Actor in a Musical (Daniel Evans)
> 2001 Laurence Olivier Award: Best Actress in a Musical (Samantha Spiro)
> 2001 Laurence Olivier Award: Best New Musical (Merrily We Roll Along)
> 2001 Laurence Olivier Award nomination: Best Theatre Choreographer (Peter Darling)
> 2001 Evening Standard Award nomination: Best Musical (Merrily We Roll Along)
Presse : NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD says "It's the songs, with the acerbic vitality of words and music, that make the evening swing." THE DAILY MAIL says the production is, "outstandingly well choreographed" and describes the performances as "Stunning".

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH liked the show, saying "Though there are patches of the tune-free dissonance that can make Sondheim a trial rather than a pleasure, there are several songs here that beautifully combine Sondheim's gift for wit, melody and melancholy." However, he did not think the show was anything special saying, "I don't think the show would be in anyone's Top 20 of all-time great musicals..."

THE INDEPENDENT says, "This is a knock-out production."

THE GUARDIAN, describes it as "a glorious show" and says "A famous Broadway flop is shown to be a work of emotional substance."

THE FINANCIAL TIMES says, "A total delight." And goes on to say, "Merrily We Roll Along displays all his(Sondheim) theatrical genius married to an attractive humanity."

THE TIMES says, "A splendidly spirited cast."

LISA MARTLAND for THE STAGE says, the show seemed "fragmented" with the result "that the pace is occasionally to slow.." However, she still thinks the show is a "fine production".

JANE EDWARDES for TIME OUT says, "The real pleasure here, lies in Sondheim's yearning music and lyrics...and not in the somewhat tendentious plot that surrounds them".

JOHN PETER for THE SUNDAY TIMES says, "Michael Grandage's production is warm-hearted, ironical, nimble on its feet and as bittersweet as the lyrics and the book."

Version 3

Merrily We Roll Along (2012-11-Menier Chocolate Factory-London)

Type de série: Revival
Théâtre: Menier Chocolate Factory (Londres - Angleterre)
Durée : 3 mois 1 semaine
Nombre :
Première Preview : 16 November 2012
Première: 28 November 2012
Dernière: 09 March 2013
Mise en scène : Maria Friedman
Chorégraphie : Tim Jackson
Producteur :
Star(s) :

Version 4

Merrily We Roll Along (2013-05-Harold Pinter Theatre-London)

Type de série: West End Transfer
Théâtre: Harold Pinter Theatre (Londres - Angleterre)
Durée : 2 mois 3 semaines
Nombre :
Première Preview : 23 April 2013
Première: 01 May 2013
Dernière: 27 July 2013
Mise en scène : Maria Friedman
Chorégraphie : Tim Jackson
Producteur :
Star(s) :
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.
Commentaires : Produit par le Menier Chocolate Factory
Presse : "Superlative staging...It is, make no mistake, one of the great musical productions of this or any other era "
Paul Taylor for The Independent

"A flawed diamond, Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's 1981 musical flop polishes up beautifully in this revival by Maria Friedman. The show is so astute, it's hard to believe this story of three friends – creative types who start out wanting to change the world but must face up to the disillusionments of middle age – originally crashed and burned on Broadway...It's a thrilling evening of musical theatre.
Lyn Gardner for The Guardian

"Amid the froth and the blockbusters, an intelligent musical like this is greatly welcome in the West End."
The Evening Standard

"Maria Friedman makes a remarkably assured directorial debut with a revival that is perfectly pitched and employs a standout cast."
Julie Carpenter for The Daily Express

"Glorious revival. "
Dominic Cavendish for The Daily Telegraph

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