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Merrily He Rolls Along: 20 Years in the Life of Stephen Sondheim

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By Lauren Ball


In the simplest terms, we straight up love Stephen Sondheim. That guy can knock out a decent tune, and his words ain't bad either.


A giant of musical theatre since collaborating with Leonard Bernstein on the classic West Side Story, a Sondheim production is a welcome sight in any theatre landscape: last year's production of Sweeney Todd was crowned Best Musical Revival at the 2013 Olivier Awards, and Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton both took home shiny statues for their lead performances. London just couldn't get enough of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street and those suspiciously tasty pies. And now Maria Friedman's directorial debut of his 1981 piece, Merrily We Roll Along, has scooped the Best Musical at the 2013 London Evening Standard Theatre Awards.


Transferring to the Harold Pinter Theatre after a sold out run at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Merrily We Roll Along received more 5 star reviews than any West End musical before it. And having made showbiz history, the show itself charts the history of Franklin Shepard and his rise to showbiz fame (or fall into obscurity, given the backwards-running narrative) highlighting eight significant years between 1957 and 1976. So what was Sondheim himself up to while his characters Frank, Charley and Mary were rolling along? Turns out he had some stuff on too.