re: Questions about the new MERRILY
Posted by: bicoastal 04:16 pm EST 01/04/19
In reply to: re: Questions about the new MERRILY - BroadwayTonyJ 09:00 am EST 01/04/19

Personally, I love the bookends on the OBC album. The framing device works. I was once able to ask Sondheim about that, and he was very dismissive of it. He said it was something that would be on a concept album but should never have been in the show. I pushed back a little on that but he was not hearing it. Hey, it's his show, so he has a right to his opinion!

I did not see the original Bway production, but I did see the first L.A. production, then La Jolla and then many more (including the York, Kennedy Center, Encores, London, etc) and every time the book was meddled with, it got worse. The show became loaded with cliched melodrama and the characters became increasingly hard to care about. Isn't the point of the show to see how Frank's self-involvement impacted others? Not necessarily to make everyone horrible people? The book is problematic because the structure is so problematic. It's not like the original was a cherished hit--it flopped--but I understand the lure of the structure, particularly to Sondheim. In general, I think the best Sondheim shows have two things going for them: solid source material (Romeo and Juliet, an autiobiography, an existing film) and/or an amazing writer (Arthur Laurents, Larry Gelbart, etc). I do not think George Furth or even James Lapine are great writers and sometimes I don't think Sondheim "gets" the book problems. Lord knows his scores soar way above and beyond even the weakest books of his shows.

One final note--I saw the Michael Arden production and really did not care for it, although I do agree with the post about the final scene and its effectiveness. But the staging, the dancing, all that was a mess IMHO.

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