Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Stephen Sondheim, Gareth Snook, Michael Cantwell|
Merrily We Roll Along (1993 Leicester Cast)
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
This is the recording of MERRILY to purchase!
burghtenor | Washington, DC | 06/08/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG was one of Sondheim's biggest flops when it first opened on Broadway in 1981. It suffered from a variety of problems, probably the biggest being that the fascinating concept of the show - relating a story in reverse chronological order - led to a host of difficulties that required more time to solve than the tryout period allowed. Over the next dozen years, Sondheim and book-writer George Furth (along with assistance from a new director, James Lapine), modified the show. The show is drastically improved by the revisions. While Sondheim and Furth have made a few minor revisions since the Leicester Haymarket production (mostly in shortening a few rhythms in the transitions, changing some introductory dialogue, and axing some dialogue in "It's a Hit!"), the Leicester recording is far superior to the recording of the final version of the show produced by Varese Sarabande.CHANGES FROM THE ORIGINAL BROADWAY PRODUCTION:
Some neat concepts from the original production have been left by the wayside to improve the overall structure. Gone is the opening scene at the 1980 Lake Forest Academy graduation ceremony and the accompanying "The Hills of Tomorrow." The title song is now presented as a prologue so that the audience can concentrate on the lyrics' message. The music of the 1979 (now 1976) scene has been heavily revised (including a new melody called "That Frank") to integrate more plot into the lyrics. The 1975 scene has been eliminated, although Mary's music survives intact as the first part of an expanded 1973 scene. A great new song, "Growing Up," Frank's rationalizations for changing his goals and values, has been added to the 1968 scene. Beth now sings "Not a Day Goes By" in the 1966 (now 1967) scene instead of Frank. Lyrics have been revised in "Now You Know" to be about encouraging Frank to take a vacation, not to go back to work. Act II has required less modifications. Gussie opens the act by singing a brassy rendition of the beginning of "Good Thing Going" as her eleven-o'clock number in Frank and Charley's 1964 show. "It's a Hit!" has been shortened a bit, but Beth is now included in the backstage celebration. The 1962 scene includes a song about the New York elite, "The Blob," which had been cut from the original production, plus a reprise of "Growing Up." The scenes from 1960-1957 remain relatively unchanged, although Beth sings lead in the reprise of "Not a Day Goes By." The show now ends with "Our Time," since the 1955 graduation scene has been eliminated.THE RECORDING:
Of the three recordings I know of this show, this is by far the best. Michael Cantwell (who I truly thought I would hate after hearing him in STARTING HERE, STARTING NOW) is a great Frank, both as a successful Hollywood executive and as an idealistic music student. Maria Friedman is almost perfect as Mary, with gravelly singing as an alcoholic in Act I and a youthful exuberance in the "Our Time" dialogue. Evan Pappas has the dramatic range to play Charley, and his enunciation in the difficult "Franklin Shepard, Inc." is admirable. Louise Gold brings the proper degrees of brassiness and insincerity to Gussie, one of musical theater's greatest "dragon lady" roles. (Jason Alexander in the original 1981 cast recording is the best Joe, and Anne Bobby in the 1994 Varese Sarabande recording is the best Beth.) The actors are young enough to convey the youthful ideals of the second act (and hit the high notes) but old enough to convincingly portray 30- and 40-somethings in the first act. The inclusion of key dialogue helps the listener put the songs into their proper context."
Third recording of MERRILY
Mark Andrew Lawrence | Toronto | 04/10/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The original 1981 production played 6 weeks of previews before opening to crushingly bad reviews. Two weeks later it closed. The day after the final performance the cast assembled at RCA's New York studios to record the cast album. In 1985 a revised production directed by James Lapine opened at the LaJolla playhouse and received encouraging reviews. More revisions lead to other productions and 1992 it was given a production at the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester and that production was given a lavish 2 CD recording by John Yap and issued on TER in England and later on JAY in the U.S. This was followed in May 1994 -just a few weeks after PASSION opened on Broadway - by an off-off-Broadway York Theatre Company revival that received generally better reviews than the original received. It was recorded by Varese-Sarabande. Both the Leicester cast and York casts use the revised version with an altered tune stack.
1. OVERTURE - In 1981 the Overture was a complete piece. In the revised version it cuts off midpoint and segues into the title song.
2. MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG - The original production began with Frank coming back to his former high school to mark 25 years since his graduation. His speech - a caution to the students to be prepared for compromise and frustration was challenged by the students who launched into the title song. As noted above, the revised version begins with the cast singing the song but without any context.
3. THAT FRANK/RICH AND HAPPY - The party scene. In the original Frank's new movie was terrible though none of the guests would tell him to his face. In the revised version the movie is a success. In THAT FRANK the party guests, Mary excepted, sing of Frank's seemingly endless talents. RICH AND HAPPY drew the conclusion that since Frank was rich and successful he must therefore be happy as well. Both songs use the same accompaniment.
4. OLD FRIENDS/LIKE IT WAS - originally in a separate scene in 1975 at a restaurant where Mary hopes to encourage reconciliation between Charley and Frank. In the revised version this number was placed as a lead in to the 3rd scene, tightening the narrative.
5. FRANKLIN SHEPARD, INC. - this song remains virtually unchanged. In the original Frank walked off the stage of the TV talk show at the end of the song ending his and Charley's partnership. In the revised version, borrowing some dialogue from the deleted restaurant scene, Frank makes it very clear that he is furious with Charley and that their friendship is finished.
6. OLD FRIENDS - though the dialogue scene leading into this song was changed for the revised version, the song remains the same.
7. GROWING UP - added to the revised version. The OLD FRIENDS scene continues after everyone leaves Frank alone in his new apartment and he muses on his friendship with Mary and Charley. Later Gussie arrives having left her husband - Frank and Charley's producer - and intent on moving in with Frank.
8. NOT A DAY GOES BY - this song changed hands a lot. Originally - in previews - Frank's soon-to-be ex-wife Beth sang it on the steps outside the courthouse. The actress playing Beth could not sing it so they re-assigned the song to Frank with a modified lyric. In the revised version it was restored to Beth and the original lyric is used.
9. NOW YOU KNOW - some lyric changes but essentially the same song. The original Broadway production incorporated a dance section that recapped the first act score (in forward sequence) using NOW YOU KNOW, OLD FRIENDS, FRANKLIN SHEPARD INC and RICH AND HAPPY. The dance segment was not recorded and was dropped from the revised version.
10. ENTR'ACTE/ACT TWO OPENING - in the revised version Act Two opens with Gussie onstage performing GOOD THING GOING. The original began Act Two with the scene outside the theatre as the friends listened to the audience reaction.
11. IT'S A HIT! - Essentially the same but loses a clever short section about selling out (Charley: Even if (the show) is a smash, doesn't that mean we sell out? Producer: Well, I hope we sell out! Charley: What I mean is sell out. Well you know...")
12. THE BLOB/GOOD THING GOING - THE BLOB was cut in previews and not included on the OCR. It was restored for the revised version. Note the main melody is the same tune used for GROWING UP. GOOD THING GOING is essentially the same.
13. BOBBY AND JACKIE AND JACK - the revised version slightly trims the number.
14. NOT A DAY GOES BY - Originally a trio for Mary, Frank and Beth at the wedding of the latter two. When Beth lost the song in Act One she was cut out of the Act Two version as well. Frank sang it to Beth as his wedding vow while Mary quietly, sadly duetted from the sidelines. The trio version is restored to the revised version.
15. OPENING DOORS
16. OUR TIME
These two remain essentially the same.
17. THE HILLS OF TOMORROW - The revised version ends with OUR TIME. The original version had a short final scene in 1955 as Frank finishes his valedictory speech to the class. They then sing a song he and his friend Charley have written. The classmates smile, there is a flash as their class picture is taken and the curtain slowly falls on these smiling faces. It was a fine ending to the show and I wish this (and the opening graduation scene) would be restored. Otherwise the revised script is in every way superior.
Sound-wise the newer recordings have a crisp, clean sound though the orchestra is roughly half the size of the original. The first cast is pretty hard to beat. If you are doing the show only the revised script is available, so you will want one of the new recordings. Jay's 2 CD set is most complete and includes some of the dialogue. V/S has the wonderful Malcolm Gets as Franklin.
Best interpretation of the show and score
Sean | LOOK | 07/20/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording only helps to prove that Maria Friedman is the no. 1 British interpreter (if not the no. 1 international interpreter of all-time) of the music of Stephen Sondheim. Her comic timing is immpeccible, and she is larger than life in her singing (especially in "Now You Know"). Louise Gold has an Ethel Merman-y quality to her voice, and this is a great new reading of the character of Guessie (she is, after all, a Broadway head-liner), as opposed to the purring sex-kitten of all of the other Guessies out there. And her rage in the dialgoue excerpt on the first disc is clear. This woman is one heavy-duty actress. We see that Guessie isn't really the only one out of the main characters to become bitter and disilliusioned, as many people make the mistake of believing. Jacqueline Dankworth does not just sing the heart-wrenching "Not a Day Goes By," she acts it. And she acts and sings the hell out of it. She has definately inherited her mother's talent (but is decidedly different in her performance style). As you can see, all of the women on this recording are effervescent, and the men rise up to the challenge (particularly the Joe Josephson of Gareth Snook and the Charlie of Evan Pappas). And there is Frank, menacing as always. This CD is the best out there, with a large amount of dialogue, and all of the score. Here is the definitive, no-questions-asked, no-holds-barred version of MERILLY WE ROLL ALONG on CD. Buy it today!"