re: MERRILY-- A naysayer's review
Posted by: Theatergoer1978 04:51 pm EST 02/07/24
In reply to: re: MERRILY-- A naysayer's review - BruceinIthaca 01:35 pm EST 02/07/24

I wonder if I saw the same off-Loop production as you. My first exposure to MERRILY was a production in Chicago around 1984 or '85. That, of course, would have been the unrevised version - which I think is far superior to the current iteration. As stated by someone else on this thread, "Rich and Happy" much better than "That Frank"; the high school graduation framing is a good way to set up looking back in time; and ugh, too much Gussie now!

I must say I don't understand why SO many people have trouble with the backward storytelling. The story is told backward, now you know (ahem), so what's the big deal? There are many plays, movies, novels that mess with chronology. It's a gimmick when ANY of them do it. But there is a clear reason here: Seeing what somebody does, and THEN seeing what led to it, supports the theme of "how did you get here." And that last scene would not be meaningful or poignant if it started off the show...a lot of good stuff in that scene and number couldn't even be included, like Frank's line about "I've met the girl I'm going to marry!" (which would mean nothing at the top of the show) and even the joke about Mary's roommate who ends up being Charley's wife.

I agree I don't get the fuss over this particular production. It's solid enough, mostly thanks to the leads. (I thought the supporting cast other than Reg Rogers was on the weak side.) But it didn't impress me any more than the half dozen or so other productions I've seen since the '90s of the "new" version. My biggest problem with all of them is that I'd like to be seeing the unrevised version that's on that wonderful original cast recording.

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