Preview: “Merrily We Roll Along” promises talent, production

It starts on Saturday.New York sophisticates; the height of physical comedy; singing, dancing, acting; yes, the team that brought Swarthmore “Company” last year is back. Only this time they’re bigger, badder and better.“Merrily We Roll Along,” with music by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth, is directed and music directed at Swarthmore by Jonghee Quispe ’14 and stage managed by Marta Roncada ’14. With a cast of 17 talented actors and a full ensemble orchestra, it is not a show to miss.

“Merrily carries a wonderful message about the power of choice without merely serving as a warning. There are no villains in this show, only people who are striving towards happiness and fulfillment in the best way they see fit,” said Quispe.

The play moves backwards in time, allowing the audience to see how the characters end up in the opening scene. This allows the audience to focus on the process of how the characters got to that stage, instead of focusing on what’s going to happen next.

“The characters have a commitment to becoming themselves and reaching a sense of individuality that they have longed for for so long,” said Quispe. She believes the show is very relevant to Swarthmore students: “We are all wondering what we are. We wonder what will happen. We wonder how this will progress.”

“Merrily” features eleven actors who appeared in musicals last year — “Company” and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” When asked how the show compared to “Company,” Roncada said, “There is a lot of the same cast, but in the end it’s a different show because of the story. ‘Company’ was all about Bobby, but in ‘Merrily’ we have a lot of main characters.”

“‘Merrily We Roll Along’ tells the story of Franklin Shepard [Daniel Cho ’15], a successful movie producer in his forties who has abandoned his friends and his composing career for the glamour of Hollywood. The action moves backwards in time from 1976 to 1957, allowing us a glimpse into the most important aspects of Frank’s life – especially his relationships with his best friends, Mary Flynn [Allison Hrabar ’16] and Charley Kringas [Paolo Debeque ’15], his songwriting collaborator, and his two wives, Beth [Kimaya Diggs ’15] and Gussie [Anna Ramos ’13],” Quispe said.

She added, “This show is a testament to the idea that our lives could be paved with laughter and love as easily as pain and tears. I believe it is especially effective for college actors to take on this show; as the characters slowly regress to our own age, the naturally expectant nature of youth will shine through.”

There was worry in the cast and crew earlier in the semester at how quickly the show would need to be produced. Quispe and Roncada held auditions in the first few days of classes, and rehearsals started later that week. The intensity of the rehearsal schedule has led to several actors needing to leave the cast.

However, Roncada said she is sure that the show will be ready by Saturday. “I’m a little worried about the technical aspects, like lighting and sound,” she said. “But the acting has come a long way. I’m proud of that.”

The show will be performed Saturday, October 27 at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday, October 28 at 7 p.m. on LPAC Mainstage.

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