Merrily We Roll Along Reviews - Theatre In LA - Play Reviews
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  Review Round-Up
Merrily We Roll Along
Actors Co-op Theatre

Los Angeles Times- Highly Recommended

"...The production brings admirable clarity to the show’s story-told-in-reverse concept, beginning in 1976 and moving backward to 1957 (the most daunting aspect of Furth’s book, adapted from an obscure, similarly structured 1934 George S. Kaufman-Moss Hart nonmusical drama). At the center of this cautionary showbiz tale, Brent Schindele’s solid performance, strong singing voice and boyish looks straddle the narrative decades as once-gifted Broadway composer-turned-movie producer Franklin Shepard faces a midlife spiritual dead-end and final estrangement from the two friends who mattered most — his high-minded, uncompromising lyricist, Charley (Matt Bauer, who sprints brilliantly through savage condemnation of crass commercialism in “Franklin Shepard, Inc.”), and writer Mary Flynn (Leslie Spencer, who anchors the conscience of the piece as she leads the reprises of “Old Friends”). "
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Philip Brandes



LA Weekly- Highly Recommended

"...As with all of Sondheim's work, the music is the thing, and Musical Director Johanna Kent's live six-piece band is as stellar as that nighttime sky. The 14-member ensemble hit just about all the notes perfectly. Israel's staging isn't flashy -- a discretion that makes his production all the more effective."
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Lovell Estell III



Backstage- Highly Recommended

"...Music director Johanna Kent leads a superb backstage orchestra, and John Todd provides vibrant and stylish choreography. Stephen Gifford's scenic design, Lisa D. Katz's lighting, Sharon McGunigle's costumes and Krys Fehervari's wig and hair designs create a chic visual sheen."
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Les Spindle



Stage and Cinema- Recommended

"...Actors Co-op is a most professional company and has consistently delivered wonderful productions. Merrily is wholeheartedly recommended, especially for those who have not seen it before, even though the elements are uneven. For example, Mr. Bauer’s Charley has a stand-out moment with “Franklin Shepard, Inc.,” but he veers on shtick later on in the show. John O’Brien is well-cast as producer Joe, but his voice is not up to the challenging material. Gina D’Acciaro, as Gussie, doesn’t seem like the kind of sex-kitten Frank could fall for, but she does fit the bill as a big, brassy, Broadway belter. Mr. Schindele’s Frank has a wonderful voice and moving, emotional moments."
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Tony Frankel



Stage Scene LA- Highly Recommended

"...There’s not a weak link in the triple-threat ensemble. Victor has just the right sweetness to play Beth, gets to sing one of Sondheim’s best ballads ever, “Not A Day Goes By,” and showcases her comedic talents opposite Schindele and Bauer in “Bobby and Jackie and Jack.” Giving particularly noteworthy performances in supporting and cameo roles are Gray, doing a sly turn as a TV journalist, O’Brien, as a producer who goes from washed up to on the top, and Patterson, as a bubble-headed would-be actress.  Melnikov makes for a cute Franklin Jr., a child who does not shrink, no matter how much younger he gets."
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Steven Stanley



StageHappenings.com- Recommended

"...After another scene where the young friends pay at a Greenwich village club, we get to the heart of this musical.  In two scenes, we find out how Frank meets his wife Beth and in the last, we realize why the three friends are together and how Frank and Charley gave themselves up to work on a musical together (“to change the world”).  From a depressing ending is the realization of how this relationship started, which is a bitter-sweet end to an intriguing work, and as one character notes early in the work, “a compromise.”  Perhaps knowing how it starts happily, capturing that moment, is just as good as an happy ending, though at the end, we know Frank is lost."
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Ray Luo