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MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Opening Night: February 8, 2012

Show NY TIMES NY 1 EW AMNY VARIETY
Broadway Review Broadway Review Broadway Review Broadway Review Broadway Review

Synopsis: Merrily We Roll Along, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth, is a musical about friendship and the compromise of youthful ideals, based on the 1934 play of the same name by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. Merrily We Roll Along begins in 1980 and moves backward in time, from 1980 - 1955, telling the story of three friends whose friendship is tested by time, events, ambition and fate. It charts the rise of a songwriting team during the years of Sondheim's own early career, and includes some of his most brilliant and bruising songs, including "Not a Day Goes By," "Old Friends," "Our Time" and "Opening Doors." Although unsuccessful in its original 1981 Broadway production (which ran 16 performances at the Alvin Theatre), Merrily has gained stature and reputation over the ensuing years, beginning with a reconfigured version at the La Jolla Playhouse in California in 1985, directed by frequent Sondheim collaborator James Lapine. Mr. Lapine will return to the project as director of the Encores! production.

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Broadway Reviews

NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW:

"Like doting godparents to a cherished but difficult child, Stephen Sondheim fans have been waiting 30 years for “Merrily We Roll Along” to grow up. Staged on Broadway in 1981, when it ran for a mere 16 performances, this ambivalent collaboration between Mr. Sondheim and the book writer George Furth seemed, like many a problem child, to possess both glorious potential and a heartbreaking tendency to sabotage itself. "

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NY1 REVIEW:

"It's been a bumpy road for "Merrily We Roll Along". This problem child in the Sondheim canon, written with George Furth, famously flopped on Broadway in 1981. After much tweaking, it's back in New York now, albeit in an abbreviated Encores production. And under the helm of Sondheim collaborator James Lapine, I can report this challenging musical is finally back on track. "

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ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY REVIEW:

"It appears to be the season for resurrecting troubled Stephen Sondheim musicals (see: the sensational Broadway revival of Follies, which ended its limited run last month and moves in May to L.A.'s Ahmanson Theatre). So there couldn't be a better time for City Center's Encores! — the high-profile, elaborately staged concert series that launched the still-running Chicago and the Patti LuPone Gypsy revival — to bring back the rarely produced Merrily We Roll Along. Even if it's only through Feb. 19, for 15 shows — heck, that's almost as many as the original 1981 Broadway production. (For the record, the show's first run played a colossally disappointing 16 performances, excluding previews.)"

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AM NEW YORK REVIEW:

"Thirty years ago, "Merrily We Roll Along," Stephen Sondheim's musical that moves backward in time from 1976 to 1957 and observes how a strong three-way friendship falls apart, crashed and burned in its Broadway debut."

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VARIETY REVIEW:

""Merrily We Roll Along" rolls triumphantly back to town as the opening attraction of the 2012 season at City Center Encores! The troubled piece -- a 16-performance failure when it opened in 1981 -- has undergone continual revision by Stephen Sondheim, the late George Furth (who wrote the original book) and director/playwright James Lapine. Built-in problems in the narrative, which lumbers backwards from 1976 to 1957, remain, but this seems the best of all possible "Merrilys." Sondheim fans will heartily approve."

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