Hugh Panaro
Hugh Panaro
For a show that flopped big-time on Broadway more than 20 years ago, Merrily We Roll Along has proven to have an impressive shelf life. The beautiful and poignant musical, with a score by Stephen Sondheim and a book by George Furth, is based on a play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart and moves backwards in time to tell a story of youthful hopes and dreams yielding to the disillusionments of middle age.

Merrily has received several noteworthy stagings in revised form since its swift demise on Broadway in 1981. Most recently, an excellent production starring Michael Hayden, Raúl Esparza, and Miriam Shor was mounted as part of the Sondheim Celebration of six of the great composer-lyricist's shows at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. A reunion concert featuring Jim Walton, Lonny Price, Ann Morrison, and the rest of the original Broadway cast will be presented as a benefit for Musical Theatre Works on September 30 at LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts in NYC. And now comes word that a special "staged reading" of Merrily will be offered by the Reprise! series in Los Angeles on September 23.

This presentation of the show will star Hugh Panaro as Franklin Shepard, Kevin Chamberlin as Charlie, and Lea DeLaria as Mary, with supporting roles to be played by Teri Hatcher (Gussie), Jean Louisa Kelly (Beth), and George Ball (Joe Josephson). Arthur Allan Seidelman will direct and Daryl Archibald will serve as musical director. Reprise! will offer Merrily in its 1994 York Theatre version, which incorporated revisions by Sondheim and Furth; the score of the show includes such songs as "Not a Day Goes By," "Good Thing Going," and "Old Friends."

One performance only of Merrily We Roll Along will be given at the UCLA Freud Playhouse on Monday, September 23 at 8 pm -- the dark Monday of the Reprise! series' production of Anything Goes, which stars Brent Barrett, Rachel York, Jason Graae, Sally Struthers, and Fred Willard under the direction of Glenn Casale. All tickets for Merrily are $50. Information on both shows may be obtained by phoning 310-825-2101.