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Monday, 23 December 2013

Watchalong: Merrily We Roll Along

Yesterday, I eagerly downloaded the Digital Theatre recording of Merrily We Roll Along (the one that was shown in cinemas a few months ago) and participated in the watchalong that began at 5:00 pm. For the next couple of hours I devoted myself half to the screen and half to the #MerrilyOnScreen hashtag on Twitter and you know what? It was brilliant.

I saw this production in London in July and then saw it in cinemas too. However, the beautiful thing about Merrily is that it doesn't get old. The more you watch it, because of the fact it runs backwards, the more you understand it and the more you can pick up from it. What helps, of course, is that the central performances from Mark Umbers, Jenna Russell and Damian Humbley are fantastic, and the supporting cast are brilliant too. Everyone makes you care about their characters, even when they're horrible human beings - yes, Josefina Gabrielle as Gussie, I'm looking at you.

What was so enjoyable about yesterday was the sense of community. Someone tweeted that we had the ability to fall apart because we weren't in public but, really, we kinda were. It's just that we were with truly like-minded company and not with people just after a night out in the West End or at the cinema. The chronology of Merrily also makes it a perfect musical for discussion. Even when we knew what was going to happen because we'd already seen it, we're willing it not to. For example, one of my tweets:
I got steadily more emotionally involved as the show went on - by the reprise of 'Not a Day Goes By' I was a gibbering wreck.
The delight of the third viewing was picking up on things I hadn't noticed before. For example, when Frank first meets Beth in 'Opening Doors' and Mary's watching them:
I can't articulate how good this show is. Now it's available for rent or purchase on Digital Theatre, I'd heartily recommend it. The songs are gorgeous but only really make sense in the context you see them. For example, on this third time around, 'Like It Was' in the first act got to me because I knew how things went.
There was a nice little discussion going on about whether Frank's life would've turned out differently if he had married Mary instead of Beth - would he still have gone off with Gussie, which was the bit that broke everything? I say that he wouldn't. Mary said it herself at opening night - sometimes you don't have to trust them and you need to keep an eye on them instead. I think that would've stuck. But maybe I'm just a romantic at heart.

If you want to take a look at the Storify for the watchalong, it's here. I'll leave you with one of the (many) beautiful lines Mary has throughout the show:

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