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Merrily We Roll Along

Stephen Sondheim was at the peak of his popularity, after A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd, when he and producer/director Hal Prince premiered Merrily We Roll Along on Broadway in 1981. With a book by George Furth, it was an adaptation of a 1934 play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart that told the tale of a playwright over a 20-year span in reverse order, beginning with his success as a creator of successful piffle and going backward, ending with him as a new college graduate filled with high hopes and aspirations.

Critics liked it, but Depression-era audiences didn’t take to its bitter worldview; it closed after a short run and was never revived. Sondheim’s musical adaptation has also had a troubled history. Despite a score that provided such standards as “Not a Day Goes By,” “Good Thing Going,” “Old Friends,” and “Our Time,” its first incarnation was liked by neither audiences nor critics. But Sondheim revised it substantially over the years, and it reached its apotheosis in the recent London revival, which (according to Jonathan Ross) received more five-star reviews from the theatrical press than any other show in West End history.

In association with SpectiCast, CinemaLive, and Digital Theatre, the Amherst Theater will feature one screening of a filmed performance of the London production this Sunday (January 26) at noon. The production stars Mark Umbers, Jenna Russell, and Damian Humbley, and was directed by Maria Friedman.

Watch the trailer for Merrily We Roll Along

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