Reasons to see 'Merrily We Roll Along' on Broadway

Back on Broadway for the first time since its brief 1981 premiere, Stephen Sondheim's musical now stars Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Groff, and Lindsay Mendez.

Amelia Merrill
Amelia Merrill

The latest revival of Merrily We Roll Along has received rave reviews both on Broadway and off. Director Maria Friedman — with the help of a star-studded cast including Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Groff, and Lindsay Mendez — transformed Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's infamous 1981 flop into a critical and commercial hit.

The show follows a trio of friends over the course of 20 years as greed, resentment, and selfishness slowly eat away at their bond. The narrative structure — reverse chronological order, beginning at the end — has been debated and revised for years, but this production proves it contains many riches, and Friedman and her cast have found them. Here are a few reasons to head to the Hudson Theatre to see Merrily We Roll Along.

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Lindsay Mendez steals the show.

Glee star Jonathan Groff and Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe may be bigger household names, but Mendez refuses to be outshone. Her approach to struggling alcoholic writer Mary Flynn is bold and brassy, making the character a prime window for the audience into the ride of Franklin Shepard’s life.

Mendez is known for her big vocals, which carry the scene in Act 1’s “That Frank” and then break your heart in Act 2’s “Not a Day Goes By (Reprise).” Merrily has a tight ensemble, and Mendez is both a team player and a standout. She already has one Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Carousel — perhaps another is in her future.

Merrily We Roll Along tells a story of resilience.

When Merrily We Roll Along opened on Broadway in 1981, it closed almost immediately, surviving only 16 post-opening performances across less than two weeks. Nevertheless, Stephen Sondheim was nominated for two 1982 Drama Desk Awards and a Tony Award for the show, and he and librettist George Furth amended the material over the years, often with the involvement of the show's various directors. Through all that, the show stood the test of time to finally make it back to Broadway.

Merrily itself is a story of resilience, following Franklin, Charley, and Mary as they navigate careers in the arts and their equally tumultuous personal lives. The fact that the show’s journey is as resilient as its characters is both inspirational and unique in an industry in which so many shows come and go only once.

The overture immediately captivates.

As more pop musicals and genre-bending fare take the stage, I find myself missing a classic Broadway overture. Sitting in my seat at the Hudson as the lights dimmed, I was eager to soak in the music and settle in for the story as the different motifs bounced around.

Even if you usually prefer to jump right into the action, take the time to appreciate this overture: Sondheim’s one for Merrily eases you in slowly, letting you renew your appreciation for his music before you have to keep track of the nonlinear story. Plus, in the current revival, the orchestra pit is in a nontraditional spot (above the stage), making the music float down like the Fates themselves are telling you the story of Franklin, Charley, and Mary.

Get tickets to Merrily We Roll Along on Broadway.

Merrily We Roll Along may be a splurge, but the storied musical is worth the price of admission. Plus, it's been 40 years since the last Broadway revival — who knows when it will roll along again?

Get Merrily We Roll Along tickets now.

Book Tickets CTA - LT/NYTG

Photo credit: Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Groff, and Lindsay Mendez in Merrily We Roll Along. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

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