“Merrily We Roll Along,” performing Friday and Saturday night at Montville Township High School, features a strong cast of thirty-two singers and dancers.
The musical, by Stephen Sondheim, with a book by George Furth, moves backwards through time. Spanning 1976 to 1957, the story allows its characters to relive both the seemingly insignificant and the monumental moments that propel their intertwined lives toward middle age.
As it revisits the past, “Merrily We Roll Along” evaluates the future through the ambition, success, fame, and family of a circle of friends and acquaintances. Despite their youth, this cast delivers the challenging story and music with admirable comic timing, powerful vocals, and sensitive performances. The actors, themselves, are more than 25 years younger than their characters at the beginning of this musical, yet they admirably bring sensitivity and maturity to the circumstances of the story’s complex relationships. Particularly impressive is the manner with which the actors sing their characters’ signature songs at the different points in time.
Senior, Bevin McNally, as Beth, belts-out a mighty, and emotionally charged rendition of "Not a Day Goes By." Her dynamic vocals provide dramatic tension when juxtaposed with senior, Sarah Brodsky’s passionate counterpoint harmony, as Mary Flynn.
Senior, Meredith Giuliani, as the superstar, Gussie Carnegie, and senior, Nick Young, as her successful producer husband, are delightful as two self-absorbed self-promoters who spend most of their time being delightfully entertaining.
Junior, Jared Plaxe, as writer, Charley Kringas, is compelling to watch. His performance of "Franklin Shepard, Inc." underscores the frustration of a partnership gone sour even while the friendship is still cherished. Plaxe infuses his character with a sense of incomprehensible betrayal and breadth of understanding that is beyond his years.
Matt Lowy, a senior, is a natural as the composer, Frank Sheppard, a talented man whose singular purpose, to write music, is interrupted by his obsession with making money. Lowry’s most touching scenes occur when he is at the piano “composing” songs.
Many of the supporting actors also deliver distinctive characterizations in this production, directed by English teacher, Michael Shera.
Susan Kenny’s costumes are a marvel given the show’s twenty year span in fashion, and the thirty-two member cast.
The orchestra, under the direction of Miriam Stachow, John Hellyer, and Michelle Uhler, is also comprised of thirty-two performers. More than half are students. Backstage, an additional twenty-five students are involved with the technical aspects of the production.
“Merrily We Roll Along” runs March 10, 11, and 12 at Montville Township High School’s Dr. Robert Stafford Auditorium. Performances begin at 7:30 pm. For tickets visit the MTHS Drama Club website.