Thursday, February 16, 2012
Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's Sunday night I went to see the Encores! presentation of "Merrily We Roll Along" at City Center, along with my composer pal John Prestianni, and some people from the Chelsea Rep Lab. (Link to City Center's website above- it's running until the 19th). I felt like I'd waited my entire adult life (and longer) to see this show. I know all the lyrics from the original cast album. I could tell where lyrics had been changed, like 90% of the first (last) party scene, and one word in "Bobby and Jackie and Jack" ("cream" became "beige," and I like "cream" better for the character).
I really enjoyed Colin Donnell and Celia Keenan-Bolger (though the more I think about it, the more thankless the role of Mary seems to me. I'm not sure why she's there). Lin-Manuel Miranda's acting was fine, and his singing was okay. But I heard him making up harmonies (egregiously), and sliding up to notes when he was flat. Adam Grupper and Betsy Wolfe were fine as Joe and Gussie. It really helped to clarify the relationships once I could see the characters on a stage, rather than in my head.
John mentioned at intermission (and I mentioned this in my City Center survey the next day) that the orchestra sounded like it was in Long Island City, instead of just behind the actors. We didn't have that experience when we saw "Lost in the Stars," and these were slightly nearer seats. It really took away from the immediacy of the experience. I pushed one of my students, Greg Cohan, into coming. (He's mentioned that he'd seen some real musicals like "Memphis," and I felt compelled). He loved "Merrily" so much that I kissed him afterwards. Now he knows what a good score is supposed to be.