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WGBH'S JARED BOWEN REVIEWS MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG

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Read the transcript of the interview:

"Merrily  rolls mightily along into the rarified realm of perfection...Stop what you're doing and get your tickets now"

Jared Bowen: We’re going to start this week at the Huntington Theatre Company and Merrily We Roll Along and we’re going to spend a little time of this because this Merrily it rolls mightily along into the rarified realm of perfection.  Joe I don’t say this very often,

Joe Mathieu: I was going to say that’s something else.

Jared Bowen: This is one where, stop what you’re doing right now – finish listening to us, but stop what you’re doing and get your tickets now. This is a fabulous, fabulous production. Merrily We Roll Along actually didn’t start out this way, in 1981 it was a huge flop for Stephen Sondheim right on the heels of Sweeney Todd but over the years, and in the hands now of this director Maria Friedman, it is a glorious piece. And it takes you back into, we meet this group of friends in 1976, they’re in their early 40s – Frank, Charley, and Mary. And we get the sense they have known each other for quite some time for about 20 years, but we’re meeting them at this point  where their relationship is very fractured so much so that we don’t even see Charley at this point because we know their friendship has dissolved. Mary - as she describes herself - is fat, drunk, and finished. Frank is kind of slick, he’s a ‘wannnabe’ composer who turned himself into a slick Hollywood producer who is wearing sunglasses inside, he’s that kind of guy. And the interesting notion of this show is that it goes backward in time, so we meet these unlikable characters at the outset and then we start to go back about 6 or 7 years here there and we see how this friendship formed and chilled and how they became this wonderful group of friends. Here is a sample of the show, it’s called ‘Old Friends.’

[Selection from "Old Friends"]

Jared Bowen: And this is lovely, we don’t normally have this experience as an audience that you know that you are going to be moving back into something that fixes itself because we move back into the deeper notion of their friendship and their chemistry – this is a really extraordinary cast in Maria Friedman’s hands. I should mention that she staged this in the West End in London in 2012, it garnered the most five star reviews in West End history and lots of Olivier awards because people, as I saw last night at opening night, discovered that she found the humanity in these characters. That they weren’t just tropes, that they were people who felt. I had the chance to speak with her recently about her take on these character…

Maria Friedman: None of these three have ever been taught how to love properly, they’re full of love but they don’t quite know how to operate it in a kind of sustaining way. But particularly Frank, this charismatic brilliant composer, these people right at the beginning of their lives who are both very frightened of living get completely transported by his passion and talent and charisma and they hang on to his coattails for the ride of their lives.

Jared Bowen: Maria Friedman, I should mention also, played the part of Mary much earlier on, about 20 years prior to helming this, so she was intimately aware of this piece. Again, a challenge for the actors to go backwards in time. Mark Umbers , who for people who are fans of PBS Mystery might recognize from the series “Home Fires,” plays Frank and I spoke to him about understanding his character – and I should mention he’s reprising his role from London as well.

Mark Umbers: I think a lot happens around the age of 40, early 40s, when you begin to assess what you’re going to leave behind. And I think his concern, and I think one of the reasons he wants to end it all really at the beginning, is partly due to legacy. Because he’s compromised so much, and done so much for money, his life has been all about what he’s taken from the world and not what he’s given to it.

Jared Bowen: So you feel these characters in the space, you feel their artistic integrity, because they all are starting out as composers and writers and you see what sacrifices they’ve made as their careers blossomed. And just to go back to Sondheim’s music for just a moment, every consonant, phrase, and syllable just shimmers in this piece.

Joe Mathieu: Wow, wait, I hope people realize what a great endorsement this is from Jared. I want to run out now and see the show right now. 

Prices & Seating

Performance Day All Sections
PEAK: Friday & Saturday evening;
Sunday matinee
$25-$155
OFF PEAK: Sunday - Thursday evening;
Saturday matinee
$25-$120
FIRST LOOK: First Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Tuesday evening; Wednesday matinee $25-$99
PEAK: Friday & Saturday evening;
Sunday matinee
Section
Price
All Sections
$25-$155
OFF PEAK: Sunday - Thursday evening;
Saturday matinee
Section
Price
All Sections
$25-$120
FIRST LOOK: First Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Tuesday evening; Wednesday matinee
Section
Price
All Sections
$25-$99

Discount Ticket Prices

  Prices
Active Military and Veterans and Immediate Families
$20 with promo code MILITARY
Student (25 years and younger)
(No AA)
$20
Section D (Huntington Avenue Theatre);
Last Row (Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA)
Additional discounts may not be applied to section D seats at the Huntington Avenue Theatre and last row seats at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA.
$25
BU Community $10 off with promo code BU10
Seniors (65 years or older) $5 off
35 Below (35 years and younger)
(No AA)
Learn more about our 35 Below program
$30

Learn more about our Discount Ticket Programs.

Discount Ticket Prices

  Prices
Active Military and Veterans and Immediate Families
$20 with promo code MILITARY
Student (25 years and younger)
(No AA)
$20
Section D (Huntington Avenue Theatre);
Last Row (Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA)
Additional discounts may not be applied to section D seats at the Huntington Avenue Theatre and last row seats at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA.
$25
BU Community $10 off with promo code BU10
Seniors (65 years or older) $5 off
35 Below (35 years and younger)
(No AA)
Learn more about our 35 Below program
$30

Learn more about our Discount Ticket Programs.

Seatmap

Avenue of the Arts / Huntington Avenue Theatre: 264 Huntington Avenue, Boston MA 02115
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA: 527 Tremont Street, Boston MA 02116
Main: 264 Huntington Avenue, Boston MA 02115 | 617 266 7900 | BOX OFFICE 617 266 0800

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