1992 Leicester Haymarket Theatre Cast

Merrily We Roll Along [1992 Leicester Haymarket Theatre Cast] [Complete]

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Although it ran for only two weeks, Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's 1981 musical adaptation of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart's 1934 play Merrily We Roll Along became one of those shows remembered fondly because of an original Broadway cast album that preserved an excellent score for posterity. Composer/lyricist Sondheim and librettist Furth employed that good will to rewrite the work when regional theaters began to mount later productions starting with one at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, CA, in 1985. By April 10, 1992, when the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester, England, produced the show, the creators had revised Merrily We Roll Along to their satisfaction, and, writes annotator Mark Shenton, this resulting "complete" recording (there was also a shorter highlights disc) "contains the music of the final version of the score that will be published." Since 1981, the framing scenes set at a prep-school graduation have been deleted along with the song accompanying those scenes, "The Hills of Tomorrow." "Rich and Happy" has acquired a new set of lyrics and been retitled "That Frank." "The Blob," a song fragment deleted from the original production, has been restored. And a new song, "Growing Up," has been added. There are also other changes. The result, unfortunately, is a less impressive version than the original, which failed for reasons other than the score. Clearly, Sondheim and Furth feared that the main character, Franklin Shepard, a composer-turned-movie-producer, was unlikable, so this version makes him more sympathetic. But that undermines the main theme of the work, which concerns the compromises a person makes in achieving success at the expense of his idealism. Enough of the original score remains, however, to rank the musical among Sondheim's best. While the original cast was criticized as too young to handle the material, this one simply isn't talented enough. In particular, Maria Friedman, in the major role of Mary, can't handle the vocal demands or the American accent required. Theater music fans naturally will be interested in a new rendition of the show that is longer than the original recording. But the original recording remains the superior one.

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