Broadway aficionados of the diehard type are most likely familiar with a show called Merrily We Roll Along, which opened to great fanfare in 1981 and closed after just 16 performances. What made that early closing so unusual was that the show featured music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim (with a book by George Furth) and was directed by the legendary Hal Prince—names that were much more often associated with box office and critical successes than with, to put it brutally, flops.
But Merrily We Roll Along has lived on in the hearts and minds of its fans as well as in various revivals and later productions, and in hindsight the musical has been more favorably perceived than it was originally. If you haven’t seen it, you can do the next best thing, perhaps, and take in a viewing of the new documentary Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened, which the Sarasota Film Festival and SaraSolo Festival are presenting at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 7 at the Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20. And, oh, by the way, one of the show’s original stars, singer-actress Annie Morrison, who makes her home in Sarasota, will be there to introduce the film, share stories that ended up on the cutting room floor after the showing, and then, later at the Starlite Room on Cocoanut Avenue, sing a couple of numbers at a VIP party.
It’s a chance to reminisce a bit with Morrison, who’s performed frequently onstage in town at a variety of theaters, and whom we’ve sometimes written about in the pages of Sarasota Magazine (check out this Mr. Chatterbox column about her and her storied career from a couple of years ago).
She and her Merrily costars, Lonny Price and Jim Walton, are pictured below, both as the youngsters they were when the show first opened and 35 years later, as the documentary (directed by Price) made its New York debut. The movie features exclusive appearances by Sondheim, Prince, Jason Alexander, Mandy Patinkin, Adam Guettel, Frank Rich and other luminaries.
For tickets to the film ($20) click here . VIP reception tickets are $25, and tickets for the movie and the party after are $35.