Due to unprecedented demand and huge critical acclaim – including winning the Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical (New or Revival) for 2012 – the Chocolate Factory’s production of the Sondheim/ Furth musical Merrily We Roll Along directed by Maria Friedman will begin previews at the Harold Pinter Theatre from 23 April. It will open 1 May for a strictly limited 12-week season.
Set over three decades in the entertainment business Merrily We Roll Along charts the turbulent relationship between three friends Franklin, Mary and Charley. Starting in 1980 and travelling backwards in time, this powerful and moving story features some of Sondheim’s most beautiful songs including ‘Good Thing Going’, ‘Not a Day Goes By’ and ‘Old Friends’.
The impressively talented cast includes Mark Umbers, Jenna Russell and Damian Humbley, as Franklin Shepard, Mary Flynn and Charles Kringas respectively. Mark Umbers has appeared in the Chocolate Factory’s production of Sweet Charity, My Fair Lady, The Browning Version and the BBC’s The Scarlet Pimpernel. Jenna Russell won an Olivier Award and a Tony nomination for her role as Dot in the Chocolate Factory’s production of Sunday in the Park with George. Her other notable credits include Guys and Dolls, Soho Cinders, Into the Woods and Season’s Greetings. Damian Humbley starred in Lend Me A Tenor – the Musical, The Woman in White and the Chocolate Factory’s production of The Last Five Years.
The production co-stars Josefina Gabrielle (Olivier nominated for Sweet Charity) as Gussie Carnegie, Clare Foster (Crazy for You, Regent’s Park/West End) as Beth and Glyn Kerslake (Road Show, Chocolate Factory) as Joe Josephson. The ensemble features Matthew Barrow, Martin Callaghan, Amanda Minihan, Kirk Patterson, Amy Ellen Richardson, Ashley Robinson, Robbie Scotcher, Zizi Strallen and Joanna Woodward.
Making her directorial debut, Maria Friedman’s extensive performing credits include Maria Friedman: Re-arranged, which transferred from the Chocolate Factory to Trafalgar Studios (Olivier Award nomination for Best Entertainment); Fosca in Sondheim’s Passion (Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical); Mother in Ragtime (Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical); Maria Friedman, by Special Arrangement which transferred from the Donmar Warehouse to the Whitehall Theatre (Olivier Award for Best Entertainment); Chicago at the Adelphi Theatre (Olivier Award nomination); Sunday in the Park with George (Olivier Award nomination for Outstanding Performance of the Year by an Actress in a Musical) and Lady in the Dark (Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical) both at the National Theatre; West End and Broadway productions of The Woman in White (Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical/Theatre World Award for Outstanding Broadway Debut).
Orchestrations are by long-time Sondheim collaborator Jonathan Tunick whose credits include the Chocolate Factory’s production of Road Show and the original Broadway productions of Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, Merrily We Roll Along and Into the Woods. He is one of just 11 people to have won all four major American show business awards: Tony, Oscar, Emmy and Grammy.
Design is by award-winning Soutra Gilmour, whose work includes the Chocolate Factory’s recent production of Torch Song Trilogy, the recent Broadway production of Cyrano de Bergerac and Macbeth currently playing at the Trafalgar Studios.
David Hersey was Lighting Consultant for the National Theatre for ten years. He has also received Tony Awards for Best Lighting Design for Evita, Cats and Les Misérables and Olivier Awards for Burning Blue, The Glass Menagerie and Twelfth Night (RSC). He was lighting designer for the original Broadway production of Merrily We Roll Along.
Sound designer Gareth Owen was nominated for the Tony and Olivier for End of the Rainbow and the Tony for the Chocolate Factory’s A Little Night Music. He currently has fifteen shows running around the world, including Disney’s Little Mermaid, Evita and Jesus Christ Superstar.
Musical supervision and direction is by Catherine Jayes who was musical supervisor and director for the Chocolate Factory’s production of Road Show. She is an associate director of Cheek by Jowl and has worked as musical supervisor/director for many Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre productions.
For this production audiences will be able to take advantage of the Menier Chocolate Factory’s dynamic pricing policy with 100 seats* at £25.00 in the stalls and dress circle on sale for every performance until Saturday 1 June.
The production will be presented by Chocolate Factory Productions, Bob Bartner, Just for Laughs Theatricals, Tanya Link, Neal Street Productions and Sonia Friedman Productions.
*These seats will NOT be restricted view