Merrily We Roll Along

A NoHo Arts theatre review of Fable Theatre Company’s production of “Merrily We Roll Along” at Whitefire Theatre.
A NoHo Arts theatre review of Fable Theatre Company’s production of “Merrily We Roll Along” at Whitefire Theatre.

[NoHo Arts District, CA] – A NoHo Arts theatre review of Fable Theatre Company’s production of “Merrily We Roll Along,” music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by George Furth, directed by Conchita Belisle Newman, assistant directed by Ariella Salinas Fiore and music directed by Richard Berent, at Whitefire Theatre through April 30.

This was my first time seeing a production of “Merrily We Roll Along.” I am, of course, a Sondheim fan, but this particular show is not one often produced. Although, there is a Broadway revival with Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Groff and Lindsay Mendez in September which should change that!

This production by the Fable Theatre Company is not perhaps so star studded, or Broadway bound, but nonetheless it was absolutely brilliant! 

For those of you who like me aren’t familiar with “Merrily We Roll Along,”  it begins at the end, so to speak. A group of three friends, Franklin, Charlie and Mary, who met as young adults in the city are now estranged. The show begins at a celebratory party in Hollywood. Franklin’s latest movie has opened to great success and his new wife, and all their hangers on are at the party, along with Mary, who drinks too much and embarrasses herself and Franklin as she calls him out on his ‘selling out.’

We then go back in time, scene by scene, a few years at a time to pivotal moments in the friendships and careers of all of them. Mary always the mediator between Franklin and Charlie who once worked together as playwright and composer. She is of course in love with the handsome Franklin, although she has never admitted as much. Franklin’s second wife ‘stole’ him from his first who now drags him through a bitter divorce to retain custody of their son. The backward plot so perfectly lets us see the beginning of the end of all of it. 

Knowing where they end up creates a gorgeous lens through which we see them all. Treacherous some, heart broken others. All cleverly connected and interwoven as the scales are slowly lifted from their eyes, scene by scene and we go back with them to their beautiful beginnings. 

The songs are frequent and poetic and truly phenomenally sung by one and all. There’s a sweetness to this cast. The chorus vibrant and eclectic and human. The three leads all so tenderly played, even in the moments of distress and anger. As if they are desperate to hold on to this special bond they have, in spite of willfully destroying it themselves. 

What can I say about “Merrily We Roll Along” to encourage you to see it? I have already texted everyone I know who would appreciate the artistry and the heart that the Fable Theatre has poured into every second. Suffice it to say it is singularly excellent. Perfect in its stripped-back interpretation, the staging just as it was when first performed in New York. The live band tucked away in a corner, the music flowing across the stage, filling the stage and the actors with energy and syncopation. There’s a gorgeous vintage vibe, but without any pretension. It’s subtle and lovely and totally genuine. These three lead actors are what make it sing though. Nick Giedris as Franklin Shepard, Philip McBride as Charley Kringas and Conchita Belisle Newman as Mary Flynn.  The support from the wickedly good Jane Harvey as the evil Gussie Carnegie and her poor beleaguered husband Joe Josephson, played superbly by Scott Weintraub, was brilliant. The rest of the cast is also spectacular, I loved their wonderful character-filled performances and how agile they were at becoming one role and then quickly becoming another. Just so very good…

A NoHo Arts theatre review of Fable Theatre Company’s production of “Merrily We Roll Along” at Whitefire Theatre.

So I think you can tell that I loved this show. Completely. “Merrily We Roll Along” is not often performed and to miss out on this level of musical theatre in the wonderful Whitefire Theatre would be certifiably…bravo to The Fable Theatre for their ambition and their courage to take on a show so packed with songs and with so heartfelt a story line and to do such an incredible job. I urge you to see the show!!!!!

And thank you Mr Sondheim for your life…



Running March 25 through April 30
Saturday at 8PM and Sunday at 7:30PM


Whitefire Theatre

13500 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

The Cast: 

“Merrily We Roll Along”  features Nick Giedris* as Franklin Shepard, Philip McBride as Charley Kringas, Conchita Belisle Newman* as Mary Flynn, Katy Jane Harvey* as Gussie Carnegie, Jennifer Knox* as Beth Spencer, Scott Weintraub* as Joe Josephson and Trae Adair, Arden Agos, Alex Brown, Adam Fried*, Annie Claire Hudson, Sam Intrater, Lauren Josephs, Lauren Magness, Jacqueline Patrice, Jonny Perl, Gabriel Ramirez, Caleb Rogers and Jini Scoville round out the cast.

The Crew:

“Merrily We Roll Along” features the design talents of an impressive array of Los Angeles-area designers including Costume Designers Paige Elizabeth Newman and Ariella Salinas Fiore and Lighting Designer Derrick McDaniel. A live band will be led by Richard Berent. The production is Stage Managed by Betsy Paull-Rick*