There are two important reasons to go see Merrily We Roll Along at Hubbard Hall:
1. It’s very good
2. If you are a theatre geek like me, you can carve another notch on your belt for having seen a full production of an obscure Sondheim musical. Serious bragging rights are involved here!
I am such a &$#% geek that I can tell you this is the SECOND full production of Merrily We Roll Along that I have seen, but no, I did not see the original blink-and-you-missed-it 1981 Broadway production. I had just gotten married but I suspect that I would have thrown bridegroom and bouquet aside and hightailed it to the Dover Plains train station in a heartbeat if the opportunity to see the new Sondheim show had presented itself, except that I was the thick of directing H.M.S. Pinafore at the time.
Sandwiched between the Tony Award winning Sweeney Todd (1979) and the Pulitzer Prize winning Sunday in the Park with George (1984), Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince collaborated on a musical adaptation of a 1934 comedy by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, Merrily We Roll Along. That the original had been a comparative flop for that hit-making team of the 1930’s perhaps should have been a sign to the hit-making team of the 1970’s. The original Broadway production ran a scant 16 performances, and its failure prompted Sondheim to announce he was leaving the theatre to write video games.