DiscoverFresh Air'Merrily We Roll Along' Revival Is A Love Letter To Sondheim
'Merrily We Roll Along' Revival Is A Love Letter To Sondheim

'Merrily We Roll Along' Revival Is A Love Letter To Sondheim

Update: 2024-06-035
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The Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's "Merrily We Roll Along" is a critical and commercial success, with director Maria Friedman and star Jonathan Groff both nominated for Tony Awards. The show, which tells the story of three friends over 20 years in reverse chronological order, has been praised for its emotional depth and its innovative staging. Friedman, who previously starred in a London revival of the show, discusses her close relationship with Sondheim and how he directed her in the role of Mary. Groff, who is known for his roles in "Hamilton" and "Frozen," talks about the emotional impact of the show and how he connects to the character of Frank. The episode also features excerpts from the new cast recording of the show, including the song "Old Friends" and "Hour Time." Sondheim's unique approach to writing the show in reverse chronological order is discussed, and the episode includes an excerpt from a previous interview with Sondheim about the song "Not a Day Goes By." The episode concludes with a discussion of the casting process for the revival, with Friedman and Groff sharing their experiences working with Daniel Radcliffe, who plays the role of Charlie.

Outlines

00:00:00
Introduction

This Chapter introduces the Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's "Merrily We Roll Along" and its director, Maria Friedman, and star, Jonathan Groff, both of whom are nominated for Tony Awards. The show tells the story of three friends over 20 years in reverse chronological order, and the episode features excerpts from the new cast recording.

00:20:49
Emotional Impact of the Show

This Chapter explores the emotional impact of the show on the performers, particularly Jonathan Groff, who discusses how he connects to the character of Frank and how he manages to stay present and emotional during performances despite the show's demanding nature.

00:23:45
Casting Process

This Chapter delves into the casting process for the revival, with Maria Friedman discussing how she cast Jonathan Groff and Daniel Radcliffe in the roles of Frank and Charlie, respectively.

00:26:11
Maria Friedman's Experience with Sondheim

This Chapter focuses on Maria Friedman's experience working with Stephen Sondheim on the show, including how he directed her in the role of Mary and how he approached the creative process.

00:32:47
Sondheim's Unique Approach to Writing

This Chapter explores Stephen Sondheim's unique approach to writing the show in reverse chronological order, and how he used this technique to create a sense of emotional depth and complexity.

00:38:03
Sondheim's Legacy

This Chapter discusses Stephen Sondheim's legacy and his impact on the lives of those who knew him, particularly Maria Friedman, who shares her personal experience with Sondheim as the godfather of one of her children.

00:39:59
Comparing Roles

This Chapter compares Jonathan Groff's experience playing King George in "Hamilton" to his experience playing Frank in "Merrily We Roll Along," highlighting the differences in the roles and the challenges of each.

Keywords

Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim (1930-2021) was an American composer and lyricist, widely regarded as one of the most important figures in musical theatre. He is known for his innovative and complex scores, his witty and insightful lyrics, and his groundbreaking contributions to the genre. Some of his most famous works include "West Side Story," "Sweeney Todd," "Into the Woods," and "Sunday in the Park with George."

Merrily We Roll Along
"Merrily We Roll Along" is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by George Furth. The show tells the story of three friends, Frank, Charlie, and Mary, over 20 years in reverse chronological order, as their friendship and careers unravel. The show premiered on Broadway in 1981 but closed after only 16 performances. It has since become a cult classic and has been revived numerous times, including the current Broadway revival, which is nominated for seven Tony Awards.

Tony Awards
The Tony Awards are annual awards presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League to recognize excellence in Broadway theatre. The awards are named after Antoinette Perry, a co-founder of the American Theatre Wing. The Tony Awards are considered the highest honor in American theatre.

Maria Friedman
Maria Friedman is an Olivier Award-winning actress and director. She is known for her work in British theatre, particularly her performances in Stephen Sondheim musicals. She has also directed several productions, including the current Broadway revival of "Merrily We Roll Along." She is nominated for a Tony Award for her direction of the show.

Jonathan Groff
Jonathan Groff is an American actor and singer. He is known for his roles in "Hamilton," "Frozen," and "Looking." He is also a Tony Award nominee for his performance in "Spring Awakening." He is currently starring in the Broadway revival of "Merrily We Roll Along" and is nominated for a Tony Award for his performance.

Daniel Radcliffe
Daniel Radcliffe is an English actor. He is best known for his role as Harry Potter in the "Harry Potter" film series. He has also appeared in numerous other films and stage productions, including the Broadway revival of "Merrily We Roll Along."

Reverse Chronological Order
Reverse chronological order is a way of presenting information in the order in which it happened, starting with the most recent event and working backwards in time. This technique is often used in storytelling, particularly in film and theatre, to create a sense of suspense or to reveal information gradually.

Ensemble Cast
An ensemble cast is a group of actors who are all given equal prominence in a play or film. This is in contrast to a cast with a single lead actor or a few main characters. Ensemble casts are often used in musicals and plays that focus on the relationships and interactions between characters.

Broadway
Broadway is a street in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, that is famous for its concentration of theatres. The term "Broadway" is also used to refer to the professional theatre industry in New York City, which is known for its high production values and its talented performers.

Q&A

  • What is the significance of the Broadway revival of "Merrily We Roll Along"?

    The Broadway revival of "Merrily We Roll Along" is significant because it is the first commercially successful production of the show since its original run in 1981. It has been praised for its emotional depth and its innovative staging, and it has been nominated for seven Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical.

  • How did Maria Friedman's relationship with Stephen Sondheim influence her direction of the revival?

    Maria Friedman's close relationship with Stephen Sondheim, who was the godfather of one of her children, deeply influenced her direction of the revival. She sought to honor his legacy and his vision for the show, while also bringing her own unique perspective to the production.

  • What is the emotional impact of the show on the performers?

    The show has a profound emotional impact on the performers, particularly Jonathan Groff, who describes it as a deeply personal and moving experience. He finds it challenging to stay present and emotional during performances, but he also finds it incredibly rewarding.

  • How does Stephen Sondheim's unique approach to writing the show in reverse chronological order contribute to its emotional depth?

    Stephen Sondheim's decision to write the show in reverse chronological order creates a sense of suspense and mystery, as the audience is gradually revealed the backstory of the characters and their relationships. This technique also allows for a more nuanced exploration of the characters' emotions and motivations.

  • What are some of the challenges and rewards of playing a role in an ensemble cast?

    Jonathan Groff discusses the challenges and rewards of playing a role in an ensemble cast, comparing his experience in "Hamilton" to his experience in "Merrily We Roll Along." He finds it more difficult to perform a solo role, but he also appreciates the opportunity to interact with other actors and to be part of a larger creative collaboration.

  • How did Maria Friedman cast Daniel Radcliffe in the role of Charlie?

    Maria Friedman knew that Daniel Radcliffe was a talented singer and actor, and she was impressed by his passion for the show. She was also drawn to his ability to embody the character of Charlie, who is a complex and nuanced individual.

  • What is the significance of the song "Not a Day Goes By" in the show?

    The song "Not a Day Goes By" is significant because it is reprised twice in the show, once during a divorce and once during a wedding. This allows the audience to see how the characters' relationships have changed over time and how their perspectives on love and loss have evolved.

  • How did Stephen Sondheim approach the writing of the show in reverse chronological order?

    Stephen Sondheim wrote the entire score knowing that the show would be told in reverse chronological order. He considered how the meaning of the songs would change over time and how the characters' perspectives would evolve.

  • What is the significance of the line "Yesterday is done" in the show?

    The line "Yesterday is done" is significant because it is the first line of the show and it sets the tone for the entire production. It suggests that the characters are constantly moving forward and that they are always trying to leave the past behind.

Show Notes

Stephen Sondheim's 1981 flop is now a Broadway hit. This revival of Merrily We Roll Along is nominated for seven Tony Awards. Two of those nominees, actor Jonathan Groff and director Maria Friedman, talk with Terry Gross about the show.

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'Merrily We Roll Along' Revival Is A Love Letter To Sondheim

'Merrily We Roll Along' Revival Is A Love Letter To Sondheim