Merrily We Roll Along is a musical with a book by George Furth and lyrics and music by Stephen Sondheim. Following the life of Franklin Shepard, the play moves backwards through time, making for a bitter-sweet story. We are introduced to the characters at the ‘height’ of their career. However, as the play rolls backwards to 1957, the audience begin to realise the sacrifices Franklin has made in order to be in the spotlight. His passion lay in song-writing, he was a talented composer of Broadway musicals and had a fantastic group of friends, but all this has been abandoned to pursue a career in producing Hollywood movies.
The show is strongly led by three incredibly talented individuals. Elliot Lolley takes on the role of Franklin Shepard, with Lee Fisher playing Charley Kringas and Georgia-Kate Abnett as Mary Flynn. The three of them together are a joy to watch, with superb stage presence, excellent character acting and voices to match. Harmonies were tight and the trio bounced off each other splendidly. Old Friends was a particular highlight of the first act and It’s A Hit, in the second half, was fantastically tackled by the trio, which included much of Sondheim’s verbal interplay. They were supported well by Nathan Hughes as Joe Josephson and Emma Percival as Beth, with Nadine Bailey’s Gussie successfully displaying the shift in her character, from that of a Hollywood diva, to a humble secretary.
The staging is simple and effective, with direction from Laurie Asher that aided the smooth transition of scenes, and choreography from Katie McDonagh to further help with this shift of time. The band was fantastic under the direction of David Bebbington with strong principal harmonies.
This performance marked the final one of the year for SSC Performing Arts students and it has been brilliant to watch these performers grow over the past few months. Hear, hear to the class of 2014/15.
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