Merrily Rolling Along into Schenectady Light Opera Company
Schenectady Light Opera Company‘s production of the lesser-known but much-loved “Merrily We Roll Along” opens Friday, March 18 at 8 p.m. as the fourth show of SLOC’s 95th season. Helmed by Gary M. Hoffmann, the production comes two years after Hoffmann’s prematurely closed “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.” Forum was also mounted at SLOC.
“We in the community theater community ached to create and entertain our audiences, and those who desperately needed diversion from the pandemic and other world problems ached with us. We’re back now – finally – and ready to state important ideas with music and words and make a difference in our audiences’ lives, even if only for an evening’s duration,” said Hoffmann.
Merrily tells the story of three friends over the course of twenty years, focusing on Franklin Shepard. Shepard is a once-promising musical theatre composer who starts to cash in on the film industry, leaving his old friends behind. The catch? This story is told in reverse. The audience finds out exactly how Franklin, Mary, and Charlie get to be where they are, long after the group of young adults witness the launch of Sputnik together in 1957. The non-traditional quality of the plot structure initially made the show a flop, but has grown to cultivate a cult following. The 2016 documentary “The Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened” outlines the show’s rise and fall and rise again over the course of its existence.
“It’s been an absolute gift to get to block out our evening hours over the last few months to iron out the intricacies of the late Stephen Sondheim,” said Alexa Flinker, who plays Meg and a Makeup Artist. Flinker’s sister plays Beth. “Working with his music so soon after his passing is oddly grounding… we’re all just trying to make the best choices for ourselves while being empathetic to the people who shift and support our paths.”
The show is the largest ensemble piece SLOC has done so far this year. One of the cast members spoke to the themes throughout the show, and how certain plots points could appeal to people in the many different stages of life depicted throughout the course of the show.
“Everyone is going to walk away with a little something different, but still something rather poignant to them,” said Christopher Urig in a phone interview. Urig plays Ru/Photographer in the SLOC production. “Life doesn’t care what our plans are – there’s a sorrow and joy in that.”
Performances are: March 18, 19, 24, 25, and 26 at 8pm and March 20 and 27 at 2pm at Schenectady Light Opera Company, 427 Franklin Street, Schenectady. Ticket prices range from $25 to $32. For tickets and information, call 518-730-7370 or visit tickets.sloctheater.org.