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.
"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." Read more
"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." Read more