Three and half hours ago, I sat in a rehearsal room in the Riffe Center and listened to our incredible cast sing through Merrily We Roll Along for the first time. Pam, our lovely and talented Musical Director, had broken it down a few times and worked through some of the solo lines. Then she paused, turned to the cast and said, “Let’s give that section a try.” And one by one the cast began to sing. And I damn near could have cried.
Instead, I broke into a shit-eating grin.
A grin that is still plastered across my face hours later.
See, this show has been a long time coming. I first came to it my freshman year of college when my newly-minted friend Josh and I were bonding over our love of Sondheim and he offered an innocuous, “You’ve never heard Merrily? Really?” I hadn’t. At that point, I was only beginning my journey through the Sondheim canon. I’d gone from Into The Woods to Assassins to Sweeney to Sunday to Company, but I knew nothing of Merrily; a sad state of affairs that Josh quickly rectified. And if memory serves, Matt was having a very similar experience with his new friend Greg at Wooster. Our next conversation consisted of a simultaneous: “You have got to hear this show.”
That was over (*cough*) fifteen years ago. Since then, Matt and I have both run theatre companies, started a company together, and worked on numerous shows together, but we’ve never done a musical: a Sondheim musical remained an elusive grail. Until now. Until these last two nights.
Well, really until a phone call one Sunday last December when Matt casually tossed out, “Do you have a script for Merrily?” and I promptly lost my shit. But despite the work that has transpired in the past six months to make it happen, it didn’t truly become real until these last two nights. Tonight, really.
When I sat in a room and listened to 17 of our cast members begin to sing, “Dreams don’t die, so keep an eye on your dreams. And before you know where you are, there you are.”
Tend your dream.
And then you can sit there with a stupid grin on your face as a cast of amazing artists begins the process of making it come true.