Hotter than Hamilton, cooler than Come From Away, Merrily We Roll Along is the just the ticket to verily roll away those lock-down blues.
Dean Bryant directs an ensemble of eight who strut their formidable stuff in the intimate space of the The Hayes Theatre, filling it with the joy and verve and sweet melancholy of Stephen Sondheim's music and lyrics and George Furth's book.
Based on a play of the same name by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, Merrily We Roll Along plots the story of Franklin Shepherd, known as Frank, once mistaken as Hank, composer and film producer, who we first meet in the mid Seventies, at the top of his professional fame but the bottom of his personal game.
The narrative goes into reverse as we count down the years back to 1957, the past charting the course to the present.
Central to the rise and rise of Frank, the slings and arrows of his outrageous fortune, are his former collaborator, Charley Kringas, and platonic girlfriend, Mary. Mary is the last person standing and her booze fuelled, barometric pressure reading of Frank's moral shallowness triggers the “back to the future” journey.
Other constants are Shepherd’s wives, Beth and Gussie, and Broadway producer, Joe.
The three amigos of Frank, Charley and Mary are splendidly rendered by Andrew Coshan, Ainsley Melham and Elise McCann.
Tiarne Sue Yek’s wholesome Beth marks a splendid professional debut and Georgina Hopson’s glamorous, bombastic Gussie is a prima donna diva force of nature. Aaron Tsindos’ Joe is a nice turn in the venally veneered, full of shtick and chutzpah. Attractive and effervescent support comes from Vidya Makan and Evan Lever.
Musical direction by Andrew Worboys has the compact simplicity of five musicians who emulate the big Broadway band sound while balancing the intimacy of a tight jazz quintet, at a volume that enhances rather than upstages the actors.
The simple and elegant set design by Jeremy Allen gives ease of access to the transitions to the cascading time zones, imaginatively augmented by Dave Bergman’s AV design and Veronique Bennett’s lighting. Melanie Liertz’s smart costumes simultaneously evoke era and evince character.
This production of Merrily We Roll Along gorgeously imparts that sense of time slipping away, the future charging into the present, the bonds of friendship as only living on in memory. It is aching and beautiful and funny and foot tapping.
Luckiest Productions and Hayes Theatre Co present
Merrily We Roll Along
music and lyrics Stephen Sondheim | book George Furth
Director Dean Bryant
Venue: Hayes Theatre Co | 19 Greenknowe Ave, Potts Point NSW
Dates: 21 October – 27 November 2021
Tickets: $79 – $99
Bookings: www.hayestheatre.com.au | (02) 8065 7337