Friday, January 9, 2015

Merrily We Roll Along

Three artists become friends. One becomes rich and the other two turn on him. Is Frank a villain, a cipher, or a victim of of his clingy friends' unrequited crushes? The 2013 London broadcast made a case for the latter with a surprisingly sympathetic Frank, torn like Company's Bobby between some nasty friends and lovers. However Frank's solo "Growing Up" is spent complaining about his friends. He never gets an "I want" solo to tell us exactly why his career path changes, so we're left to view him through the unreliable lenses of Charley and Mary. 

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. ~ Frank Rich, New York Times, 1981. 

In Harold Prince’s original staging the ensemble was notable for its youth and lack of professional experience. Mr. Prince has said he envisioned the show as a sort of “Babes in Arms”-like frolic for fresh-faced performers. But Mr. Sondheim, being Mr. Sondheim, streaked even the show’s sunniest songs with chilling shadows of melancholy. ~ Ben Brantley, New York Times, 2012.

Merrily, for most of its length, chides Frank for "selling out," and this could be the prime reason why audiences don't take to the show. Face it: Most theatergoers must feel as if they've sold out in some capacity. ~ Peter Filichia, 2005

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