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Reviews round-up of Merrily We Roll Along at the Menier Chocolate Factory

Jenna Russell in Merrily We Roll Along at the Menier Chocolate Factory. Photo: Roy Tan

Jenna Russell in Merrily We Roll Along at the Menier Chocolate Factory. Photo: Roy Tan

The reviews are now in and it’s 4 and 5 stars all round for Maria Friedman’s directing debut of Merrily We Roll Along at the Menier Chocolate Factory. No stranger to Sondheim, Friedman has moved with ease from front of stage to behind it with a sparkling new production of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s once rather neglected musical.

She has assembled a powerful troupe of players to bring Sondheim’s musical about three friends to life, including Damian Humbley as Charley Kringas, Olivier award winner Jenna Russell as Mary Flynn and Mark Umbers as Franklin Shepard. Plus Josefina Gabrielle as Gussie Carnegie, Glyn Kerslake as Joe Josephson, Clare Foster as Beth Spencer and Zizi Strallen as Meg Kincaid.

Based on the play by Kaufman and Hart, Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s musical charts the turbulent relationship between three friends, Franklin, Charley and Mary, over three decades. Starting in 1980 and travelling backwards in time, this powerful and moving story features some of Sondheim’s most beautiful songs including ‘Good Thing Going’, ‘Not a Day Goes By’ and ‘Old Friends’.

Reviews below from The Telegraph, Guardian, Evening Standard – more to follow.

LINKS

Book tickets to Merrily We Roll Along at the Menier Chocolate Factory

Photos: see photos of Merrily We Roll Along

REVIEWS ROUND-UP

STAR RATING The Daily Telegraph

“Watching this assured and original show more than 30 years after its ill-fated premiere it’s clear that far from being a flop, Merrily We Roll Along is actually one of Sondheim’s most startling and affecting achievements.”

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STAR RATING The Guardian

Although it famously flopped on Broadway in 1981, this Stephen Sondheim-George Furth musical has been re-evaluated in fine British revivals at Leicester Haymarket in 1992 and London’s Donmar in 2000. Now comes a superb production by Maria Friedman, astonishingly making her directorial debut, that makes you wonder how anyone could ever have doubted its quality.”

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STAR RATING Evening Standard

“Franklin is the central character. He is unsympathetic, and there’s no getting round the fact. But Mark Umbers makes him interesting, even at his most arrogant and aloof. Expressive tenor Damian Humbley is a tender Charley, and Jenna Russell’s Mary oozes pathos. Their tangled emotions are vividly realised, and poised support comes from Clare Foster and Josefina Gabrielle.”

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