Merrily We Roll Along. February 2018

Something that every young creative type (actors, writers, musicians, composers, etc) is taught when they are going through school is to carefully choose the people you surround yourself. They’re told that higher education is the time to meet your peers and make those bonds, those artistic partnerships, and hang onto them tightly; especially if they are people who push you to be the best in your craft that you can be.

Merrily We Roll Along is a musical about these friendships that mean so much as an artist, the people who see their friends’ potential and passion, and how friendship can get off track somewhere along the way.

The show starts with Frank Shepard, an aged film producer, being pushed on stage in a wheel chair. The set is white and barren, and it becomes apparent that the purpose is not to be an empty room, but to be a blank canvas as one of Frank’s films he produced is projected onto the wall behind him. The walls will be masterfully filled though out the show with projections of wall paper, windows, and the passing of time itself as the story begins to rewind like a reel of film.

Frank’s best friends, and fellow artists, are Charley Kringas and Mary Flynn and as the story begins we see the holes that are left behind in his life by their absence, and the warmth they brought into each other’s lives as the show winds down into the moment where they first met.

Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Alongis a story that both gives hope and takes it away for this trio of friends. As the audience leaves the show, we are reminded the importance of asking for forgiveness and of giving it to those who spur us forward and into being better versions of ourselves than we were yesterday. The show is a truly not-to-miss piece of theater that is not only a very entertaining story with a toe-tapping score, but also for the way that it asks its viewers to change how we look at our friendships. 

Porchlight Music Theatre's production of

Merrily We Roll Along runs through March 11 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts

Spike Manton