Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by George Furth

directed by Christopher D. King

A United Players of Vancouver production

at Jericho Arts Centre

January 19 - February 11, 2018






Spotlight Article by Sabrina Furminger


With its soaring songs, inventive narrative arc, and nuanced characters that remain with you long after the show is over, Merrily We Roll Along is the perfect antidote to lingering winter blues.

The result of a famed partnership between composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim and playwright George Furth, Merrily We Roll Along explores the mechanics of creative partnerships and friendships, and the choices that artists must make in order to live their dreams. The musical follows three friends – composer Franklin Shepard, lyricist Charley Kringas, and writer Mary Flynn – whose friendship is put to the test over a couple of decades.

Unlike most musicals, the story is told in reverse. We meet Franklin when he is a wealthy, jaded composer, at a moment that should be one of great triumph: a party celebrating the release of his new film. Mary is present, although inebriated and speaking hard truths in vino veritas; Charley, his one-time best friend and former collaborator, is notably absent, but when Charley’s name is mentioned, a pall falls over the event; his wife Gussie, a veteran actress, kicks him out after accusing him of sleeping with a starlet. Franklin should have it all, but his life is in ruins.

As the musical marches on, Sondheim and Furth roll back the clock, and we witness past milestones from the careers and friendship of Franklin, Charley, and Mary, and observe how three earnest, bright-eyed, uncompromising and seemingly inseparable creative souls became one, one, and one.

Bursting with some of Sondheim’s finest songs – including the epic “Our Time,” which closes the show – Merrily We Roll Along is a timeless rumination on success, regrets, friendship, and dreams. 

Christopher D. King, director of United Players’ production of Merrily We Roll Along, says the musical is representative of what he likes best about Sondheim’s work; the songs “represent the characters, and when we hear them sing, their intentions and their voices become clear,” he says. “As opposed to other composers who just write a song, Sondheim is writing from the point of view of the characters, and their struggles, and their intentions, and he’s always true to that.”

Also appealing: the fact that Merrily We Roll Along examines how our choices in life affect “where we go and how our lives turn out,” according to King. “I like Charley, Mary, and Frank equally, because they each have a clear goal, and by the beginning of the play, which is really the end, they’ve all gone their separate ways, and yet they’re all real people, and we can all see ourselves being those people with the choices that we make. These characters aren’t fake. They’re relatable.”

What Sondheim and Furth capture so well is the irony of the journey, says King. “We go backwards in time. We see them when they’re the most bitter at the beginning, but when we go backwards in time to the end, which is technically the beginning [of their journeys], they’re their most optimistic.” Which is why King’s favourite scene is the last one, in which “Our Time” is sung, because the characters are “full of hope for the future. There’s this idea of hope, and beginnings, and that anything can happen. Being an eternal optimist that way, I relate to that song the best, and I like that it ends the show. We have to remember how we started.”


United Players’ production of Merrily We Roll Along features Caroline Buckingham, Caitlin Clugston, Ian Crowe, Amy Gartner, Rana Laviolette, Olivia Leon, Julian Lokash, Ryan Nunez, Ashlyn O’Shea, Geneva Perkins, Alexandra Quispe, Matt Ramer, Sari Rosofsky, Corey Schmitt, Kelsey John Torok, and Scott Walters, with musicians Arielle Ballance, John Bews, Will Friesen, Lindsay Goldberg, and Lawrence Woodall.

The production team is directed by Christopher D. King, with musical direction by Arielle Ballance, costumes by CS Fergusson-Vaux, lighting by Michael K. Hewitt, sound by Richard Berg, projection by Corwin Ferguson, set decoration by Linda Begg, properties by Frances Herzer, stage management by Stacy Taylor Albrecht and is produced by John Harris.


Christopher D. King is an actor, director, music director, writer and educator. He has music directed or directed more than 30 musicals andplays in the Lower Mainland.

He music directed and played the roles of Zach in FCP's production of A Chorus Line and Shrank in Theatre Under the Stars' production of West Side Story, and played the role of Man 1 in Gateway Theatre's production of Closer Than Ever. He music directed The Music Man at Gateway Theatre and 42nd Street at Studio 58. Chris directed a successful production of the play, Parfumerie at the Metro Theatre. He was commissioned by the Gateway Theatre Academy to write an original musical Solo Sisters which was performed April 2017, and is working on original music for Little Miss Glitz coming in March 2018. Chris has taught at Capilano University, Studio 58 and the University of British Columbia's theatre departments. He has won four Ovation Awards including Outstanding Music Direction for Gateway theatre's The Music Man and Theatre Under the Stars' production of Hairspray. Chris is a proud member of Canadian Actor's Equity as well as The Vancouver Musicians Association.


Stephen Sondheim is an American composer and lyricist known for more than a half-century of contributions to musical theatre. Sondheim has received an Academy Award; eight Tony Awards (including a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre); eight Grammy Awards; a Pulitzer Prize, the Laurence Olivier Award, and a 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom. His best-known works as composer and lyricist include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, and Into the Woods. He wrote the lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy.

George Furth was an American librettist, playwright, and actor. A life member of the Actors Studio, Furth made his Broadway debut as an actor in the 1961 play A Cook for Mr. General, followed by the musical Hot Spot two years later. He was well known for his collaborations with Stephen Sondheim: in addition to Merrily We Roll Along, they collaborated on Company and Getting Away with Murder. Other plays include Twigs, The Supporting Cast, and Precious Sons.

-With files from Wikipedia


At the Jericho Arts Centre - 1675 Discovery (near Jericho Beach)

JANUARY 19 - FEBRUARY 11, 2018

Thursday through Sunday, at 8 pm
(2pm only on January 28, February 4, 11)

$18 Preview: January 18
Talkback: January 25

Matinees: January 28, February 4, 11 at 2pm
(no evening performances on those dates)

Single Tickets: $33 - $38

Jericho Arts Centre

1675 Discovery Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6R 4K5

TICKETS:Online or call 604 224 8007, ext. 2

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