Roundabout’s company in residence, Fiasco Theater, brings their imaginative, stripped-down aesthetic to Stephen Sondheim's musical about about a trio of showbiz friends who fall apart and come together over 20 years. More…
Based on a 1934 play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, and premiering on Broadway in 1984, "Merrily We Roll Along” is an enduring work that confronts the pains and pleasures of fame, fortune, and old friends.
“Exciting and creatively successful...Those familiar with the score will be struck from the outset by a brave and most fortuitous reinstatement 'Rich and Happy,' which seems to have been used only in the original 1981 production of the show...The cast is exceptional...If the thought of a reduced ‘Merrily’ leaves you apprehensive of the handling of Sondheim’s score, fear not...’Merrily’ does work, indeed; just look at it now, at the Roundabout.” Full Review
“Here’s an early contender for the most exhilarating production of the year...What is presented here is free of clutter and fuss — whatever surgical work Fiasco has done on the show, there are no visible scars — and Sondheim’s achingly gorgeous score is given vibrant life...The three excellent leads...are perfectly believable...Brody wisely trusts the core of the material...The result is humane, affecting and completely realized.” Full Review
"Stephen Sondheim's most autobiographical and intimate musical, 'Merrily We Roll Along,' is now in revival at the Roundabout's Laura Pels Theater. Having seen six other productions since it's Broadway premiere in 1980, this current Fiasco Theater version utilizing a cast of six is perhaps the best of the eight I've seen--including two in London, the rest in New York." Full Review
"The show once again proves its brilliance, with Sondheim’s ear- and soul-filling score and the poignancy of its intention overcoming whatever clunky defects remain in its unconventional storytelling...That energy, with the cast pared down to just six terrific performers under the inspired direction of Noah Brody is one of the key elements making this redo such an exhilarating experience...The score has been thinned but with no feeling of disruption." Full Review
"The three principals (Jessie Austrian, Ben Steinfeld and Manu Narayan) play Mary, Frank, and Charles (the three old friends) brilliantly. As a group they work as one...You’ll be humming their tunes for days, and the words remind us that lyrics in a musical play are supposed to tell us something about the character who is singing them...If a commercial run can’t be arranged, I can only hope this production is recorded for the archives." Full Review
“An exuberant, engaging production...’Merrily’ is a perfect fit for this company of theatre artists who came of age together since their university days...Brody directs with skill and verve and the company shines...Fiasco has put its collective heart and soul into this production." Full Review
"The staging is very creative. The acting is first-rate; the singing leaves a bit to be desired in a case or two...Brody’s direction is fluid and assured. While I doubt that I will ever include ‘Merrily’ among my favorite Broadway musicals, I grant that this production makes a strong case for it and provides an entertaining experience.” Full Review
“A satisfying scaled-down revival...It may not be the definitive ‘Merrily’, and anyone familiar with the show will probably miss its dynamic original orchestrations and smashing overture...Vocally underpowered and underpopulated. But on the whole...theatrically effective, smart and emotionally wrenching...Most critical to its success, the production brings to the forefront the three-way friendship of Frank, Mary and Charley and conveys the overwhelming insecurity of every character.” Full Review
"Basically succeeds, even though this is a pared down version that still could stand more editing. It has been deftly re-imagined in the direction...and with new orchestrations and arrangements...An excellent cast is sufficiently appealing to make one care for the characters...The revival is enjoyable to watch, as well as reminding us of how creative this Sondheim work is despite the book’s complexity.” Full Review
"Under the seamless direction of Noah Brody, it's largely a success...Sondheim’s score, thanks to a terrific eight-piece band, sounds beautiful as ever with lyrics that paint the most detailed portraits in a single verse. If the performers don’t all have the most trained voices, they are first-rate actors who deliver each song with great clarity and naturalism. Some problems remain; the dialogue can sound stilted...But so strong is this company, we hardly notice the book’s flaws now." Full Review
“A leaner incarnation of the musical, with no intermission and no substantial addition to the score. There’s rather a tightened focus on the potent but fragile bonds among Charley, Frank, and Mary...If Fiasco’s staging falls short of a revelation, or reinvention, it unearths the joys and pain at this vexing but compelling musical’s core, making it feel freshly vital.” Full Review
“The wonderfully imperfect musical with some perfectly wonderful songs has invited endless tinkering...Finally it seems someone has gotten it close to right. Fiasco, may not have solved all the show's problems, but the innovative company has come up with an entertaining, enjoyable production that revitalizes the bittersweet story...Trimming the cast to a tight ensemble of six fine performers doesn't really help, but supplementing with material from the original source does clarify the action.” Full Review
“Brody directed this revival with nice touches cleverly embracing and winking at the reverse chronology...The entire cast is solid but admittedly not all are virtuoso singers. This is first and foremost a storytelling production...In the end, the still imperfect ‘Merrily We Roll Along’ remains one of musical theater’s ‘Old Friends’ worth your time...The thoughtful Fiasco Theatre troupe has given us a reason to enjoy this score once again and reconsider this continually evolving piece.” Full Review
“A sympathetic and reworked revival...The downside to beginning at the end is that it makes for a bummer of an evening. With all the leads unlikable from the start, it is an uphill battle for the ensemble to win the audience’s hearts and minds. And even though the final scenes are spirited and uplifting, they are also classically tragic since the trio’s fate has already been determined...The supporting cast has an easier time of it." Full Review
"Fiasco Theater is giving it their best shot, attempting to find the true heart and pacing of 'Merrily'...The Fiasco team have attempted to tighten up the material, treating the piece like a new show in development...The tightening has cost the show a bit of its connect-ability, forcing the highs and lows of emotionality to come too quickly...The subtlety has been chopped away, leaving an emotional rollercoaster...The killer songs are performed with passion but not so much power." Full Review
"By stripping away much of the glitzy previous trappings of some prior outings (even though Derek McLane's theatrical warehouse set could keep you entranced for hours); cutting the show's intermission (and a song or two); and, above all, placing its emphasis squarely on its six primary characters -- who are now significantly less hateful and slightly less interesting than often presented - that dilemma becomes less existential and far more human." Full Review
"Even though the cast has been stripped down to six, the stage feels as full as those shelves because of the well-paced staging...The central role of Frank could be played with more charisma and some of the other actors’ line readings are overly glib, but I felt 'Merrily' was worth the ride this time, as a heady exercise in the pitfalls of thinking the past used to be better—except that it really was. Except for 1981." Full Review
"It's both easier to follow and more clear where the holes in the story are. But the cast, though they occasionally have unsteady voices, brings a warmth and poignancy that feels fresh...Maybe this is as good as it gets — six entangled characters who hurt themselves as they try to thrive." Full Review
"Despite a lively pace that keeps things rolling…, proficient staging, and nimble and creative choreography…, nothing can disguise the thinness of the characters. Each has one or two dominant traits that vary little through the evening…Overall, the characters have such solipsistic, charmless personalities that cheering or sympathizing with them is barely an option…None of the performances, despite their technical adeptness…, possess the magical appeal that suggests future stardom." Full Review
"Though vocalizing is not this production's strong suit, Fiasco puts them over with their special flair...But for all the clever touches and Latarro's peppy choreography, the many lovely songs are still attached to a structural gimmick that viewers of the large cast version found too confusing...I rather doubt that the strong acting, inventiveness, charm and stylishness, will turn Sondheim's major flop into a belated major hit likely to move to Broadway. But there's plenty here to enjoy." Full Review
“Fiasco’s earnest love for the material is evident...And the cumulative effect is…pretty good. Despite an abundance of appealing parts, this 'Merrily' doesn’t quite come together into a real gut-punch of a whole. There’s much that’s nice some that’s very funny, and a bit that’s beautiful, yet the show’s emotional power feels blunted and its aesthetic suspended somewhere between minimalist and maximalist. There’s no shortage of spirit on offer, but visceral oomph is elusive.” Full Review
"Brody's casting choices also have their plusses and minuses...on the up side, those actors, many of whom have been collaborating since their college days, put to good use the comfortable familiarity and knowing frustrations that come from their own long association. They're also clever at integrating into their stagecraft the Fiasco trademarks of inventive stage business...Here's a significient negative: their vocal strengths vary from impressive to not-all-that-great." Full Review
"Falls short despite many improvements and arresting moments. The main problem is the basic concept...The small cast delivers Sondheim’s gorgeous and complex melodies with honesty and flair. They also manage to endow the slender characters with all the believable passion Furth’s dialogue lacks...'Merrily' remains the problem child of Sondheim’s creations, but it does contain one of his loveliest scores." Full Review
“This cast brims with nerve, energy and overreach...Though in this production...Brody has a keen eye for revelatory details that perk up scenes and deepen characters...Both Narayan and Steinfeld have the strongest voices in the cast and deliver on their numbers big time...Vocally, the rest of the cast just isn’t up to the task. And while some details of the script are enhanced in the staging and the playing, others are diminished.” Full Review
"One issue for some people might be in the manner of narration of the play...Somewhere along the line, some plot lines get blurred and lost...Perhaps in shortening the play, some of the storyline has been deleted...It is interesting that only Mary changed over the 25 years. Did I pick up on that because I am a woman?" Full Review
See it if You love Sondheim; a great young energetic cast who can really sing & act; you love musicals. Not a weak link in the cast.
Don't see it if You don't realize that the years are moving backwards (but they do announce the years throughout the show). Otherwise you might be lost.
See it if Simply Sondheim. Ignore the critics and see for yourself. It’s perfectly crafted and well executed. Don’t overthink it, it makes sense.
Don't see it if Believe that critics are always right.
See it if You want to see a flop musical finally have its chance to soar. Want to be moved in a way that makes you examine your life choices.
Don't see it if You’re looking for a big, brassy musical with lots of dancing and flashy sets. This production is very intimate, with only a cast of six.
See it if You like Sondheim, or you enjoy classic musicals. You want a fun night at the theater. I was not familiar with the musical and loved it
Don't see it if You dont like musicals, you have a hard time paying attention to slightly complicated plots.
See it if you like Sondheim, you like reimagined versions of musicals, you like Merrily We Roll Along
Don't see it if you aren't a Sondheim fame, don't like musicals, you like big splashy musicals
See it if you are a Sondheim fan and want to see one of his "flops" done well. This stripped down version was entertaining. Clever music and lyrics.
Don't see it if you are looking for a more traditional show or would have trouble following the reverse chronology
See it if You enjoy Stephen Sondheim’s beautiful music and witty lyrics
Don't see it if You think you might have trouble following a show that goes backwards in time from one scene to the next
See it if You love Sondheim and are eager to see what this terrific company can do with a scaled-back version.
Don't see it if You are a Sondheim purist to the extent that you are unwilling to try a variation, or if you've not seen it and are unfamiliar with the plot
See it if you enjoy intelligent, well-written and relevant musicals that are also absorbing and entertaining, with an eager cast that tries its best.
Don't see it if you expect a fully realized musical production, inventive staging, above average singing.. material is not getting the treatment it deserves
See it if You love Sondheim or any insightful musical that tells a compelling story through fabulous songs and dialogue.
Don't see it if You hate Sondheim or shows similar to his style, and only enjoy old-fashioned musicals.
See it if you can enjoy fabulous musical numbers without fully understanding the weird plot that moves backwards.
Don't see it if you need your musical to have an engrossing and logical plot.
See it if You enjoy watching talented people carry out a smart script with excellent staging and choreography. Nice pace of laughs to empathetic sighs
Don't see it if You can’t relate to the complexity of evolving with your friend groups carried forth from young adulthood.
See it if Duh... it’s Sondheim! See it in so you can agree with me that this show has the best band on Broadway (...and this coming from a musician!)
Don't see it if You had a lot of liquids: it runs for 90 minutes with no intermission. Just kidding: don’t drink; go see it.
See it if You enjoyed the movie, but don't expect the play to be a carbon copy. If you like the music in Full Monty, The Band's Visit,...
Don't see it if You liked the movie and wouldn't change a thing.
See it if if you want to like a play about friendships and how they change through the course of time
Don't see it if You are looking for a splashy musical with glam and glitter
See it if Not one of Stephen sondheims best but this production it's just wonderful. Very well done entertaining great acting and singing.
Don't see it if If you prefer a more splashy Musical. I came in with low expectations I left very pleased with my experience.
See it if Intricate music & lyrics. Sad exploration of friends whose flaws & ambition drive them apart. The reverse timeline is a wistful memory.
Don't see it if You want a more uplifting experience. You want more humor. You don’t like Sondheim’s musical style.
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