News: “Merrily, “Night Music,” Etc.

merrilyOkay, here’s what my sources are telling me right this minute about three high-profile projects in the world of Stephen Sondheim: 1) The Broadway revival of “Merrily We Roll Along,” the 1981 show that flopped on the Great White Way but has had a vigorous life since, had been seriously talked about for New York’s Roundabout Theatre. The director was to have been frequent Sondheim collaborator James Lapine. But the Roundabout feels that in this economy the price tag for a revival is too high, so that project isn’t likely to happen anytime between now and the end of Obama’s first term. 2) Lapine was also to have directed “iSondheim” at the Alliance in Atlanta next month, but it was cancelled in February for economic reasons. According to what Lapine’s been telling friends, the production, billed as “an innovative multimedia revue that would incorporate original and archival commentary from Sondheim,” still has much better prospects than the “Merrily” revival, but remains without sufficient funding right now.

3) The prospects for the Trevor Nunn-directed revival of “A Little Night Music” transferring to Broadway can now be classed as “extremely unlikely.” The show is playing in London, but the commercial climate is too iffy for it to come to New York. If Sondheim’s frequent Broadway home, the Roundabout, won’t spring for “Merrily” because of money issues, they’d look mighty stupid bringing in “Night Music,” which would be at least as expensive.

So: we live in a world where the current London revival of “La Cage aux Folles” is almost certain to transfer to New York in the autumn, a scant five years after its last go-round, but two musical masterpieces, “Merrily” and “Night Music,” have still not had Broadway revivals. You don’t have to live in an Ionesco world to find that situation totally absurd.

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