“Merrily We Roll Along”

“Merrily We Roll Along”

The Music Theatre Company

Krager Center

1850 Green Bay Road

Highland Park, Illinois

 Reviewed by Richard A. Eisenhardt

             The Music Theatre Company is presenting the Stephen Sondheim and George Furth musical “Merrily We Roll Along.”  I’ve been told this small equity theatre has been around for three years after Apple Tree Theatre lost the space but this is my first time for the “Music Theatre.”

            Unfortunately many Chicagoans haven’t discovered this company and one reason is because publicity in Chicago papers is so expensive.

            The show features a large cast of equity performers under some terrific direction by Jessica Redish.

            The story to unfold runs two hours and forty-five minutes with a fifteen-minute intermission.  The first act runs ninety minutes and it is a difficult show to pull off.

            The story is about three friends.  One is a writer, another is a musician and another is a lyricist. 

            Stellar performances are given by Jessie Mueller as Mary Flynn, Jarrod Zimmerman who is a talented leading man who shouldn’t have to go out of town to get work, as Franklin Shepard and Alan Schmuckler as Charley Kringas, Dara Cameron as Beth, Stephanie Herman as Gussie,  Joe Galante as Joe and Gabriel Stern who is Frank, Jr., and as he matures from youngster to adult should have a great future ahead of him.

            To name a few of the talented ensemble we have Katie Huff, Andrew Mueller, Kevin O’Brien, Molly Tower, Nate Lewellyn and the list goes on.

            It is not an easy show to do but the cast with its wonderful director pulls it off.  I hope Chicagoans will discover and support this company and I hope it can keep up the quality of its productions.

            We find that this is a musical that is told backwards from the end to how they got started.  The ensemble plays characters that meet during this time period.

            It is a hard show to do and while most of the songs may not be familiar you might remember one or two like “Not a Day Goes By,” “Old Friends,” “Now You Know” and “Our Time.”

            “Merrily We Roll Along” runs through May 1st.  For performance days, show times and reservations call 847-570-4900.  Tickets are $30.  Free parking.

-Three Stars-





About eisenchic773

Richard Eisenhardt fell in love with all aspects of show business when at the age of five he was taken to see a live performance of Ice Follies and Ice Capades as well as Ringling Brothers Circus and an Olson and Johnson revue at the Selwyn Theatre. He served in the military and spent time at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo. - Ft. Lee, Va. and Korea. In Korea he sang with the Korean Floor Show and was soloist in church. He met President and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson when he was stationed at Ft. Lee, Va. Sportswise he is an avid hockey fan and to this day belongs to the Standby Club, a booster club for the Chicago Blackhkawks. Richard had season tickets for over twenty years and saw the Chicago team win the Stanley Cup in 1961. Richard Eisenhardt and Jane PowellHis first major play was "South Pacific" that starred Janet Blair and Richard Eastham at the age of fifteen. His favorite performers are Jane Powell, Mitzi Gaynor and Debbie Reynolds. For years he has had season theatre tickets and was a member of the "Saints." He appeared on stage in "Guys and Dolls" and "The Hot Drunkard." He sang in high school variety shows and at his graduation and was church soloist. He also presented a Jeff Award to Chicago's Regional Theatre. In 1976 he put together his own publication called "Theatre 76" to encourage people to support regional theatre and make them aware of what Chicago Theatres offered them. During the Viet Nam conflict he went with a group to visit the wounded Viet Nam vets at Great Lakes, Ill., on a weekly basis. When servicemen were able to get weekend passes and their wounds were healed he arranged to take two or three to restaurants, sports events and theatre in Chicago. He also arranged for them to meet hockey players and the stars in the shows. He loves to travel having vacationed in Europe, Canada, Mexico, Hawaii, Japan, as well as on a cruise ship to Bermuda and seeing cities in the United States. He likes being single and resides with his boxer dog "Noel." Over the years he has had seven dogs but not at one time. He feels a big part of the theatre community even though he doesn't perform any longer. Many of his friends are the Reegers, the Muellers, Renee Matthews, and the list goes on. His reviews have appeared in Streetwise, Our Village Newspaper, and on-line. He has also been on the radio and done TV. Richard says "There is nothing like live theatre. Go see a play - long may it live!"
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