Theater March 2023
Turn back the clock
On Merrily We Roll Along, Funny Girl & A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical.
Stephen Sondheim’s 1981 musical Merrily We Roll Along might be the only example of a show that is both a notorious flop and a beloved classic. After Harold Prince, the leading director of the day, made a series of spectacularly awful choices—casting inexperienced and largely indistinguishable teen and young-adult actors, then dressing them in sweatshirts with their names on them for identification—the initial version lasted only sixteen performances. Sondheim and Prince, previously close collaborators, had a falling-out that lasted decades.
Today, the triumph of the first Broadway revival, slated for a date to be determined this fall, seems all but guaranteed. It will be a transfer of the euphorically received production that closed in January at downtown’s New York Theatre Workshop, whose 199 seats quickly sold out for the run of the show,...
New to The New Criterion?
Subscribe for one year to receive ten print issues, and gain immediate access to our online archive spanning more than four decades of art and cultural criticism.Subscribe