Merrily We Roll Along

posted in: Real Journeys | 4

I’m currently staying with my mom in central New Jersey. (But see the note below.) We have two family weddings. One was last weekend in north Jersey, and the other is this coming weekend in Connecticut.

I couldn’t make a trip to the northeastern US without scheduling a day in New York to see a Broadway show. So I got a ticket to see Merrily We Roll Along, and yesterday I went into The City and wished I had more time there. 

Museum of Broadway

I took the bus from Toms River to Port Authority, about an hour and a half. I went early so I could visit the Museum of Broadway, which just opened in November 2022.

The museum provided a historical timeline of theatre in New York from 1732 to the present day. It covered almost all the forms of theatrical entertainment that have been part of New York’s history (though I didn’t see anything about Yiddish theatre). And it had special exhibits highlighting the groundbreaking milestones in theatre history: Showboat, Oklahoma, West Side Story, Hair, Rent, and others.

The drugstore from West Side Story

They had tributes to the great personalities in Broadway history: Jerome Kern, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Hal Prince, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Weber, and many more.

And they had a display related to AIDS and how it killed a generation of creative artists.

Then there was a section on the making of a Broadway production. Starting from coming up with a concept and writing a script, all the way through financing, getting a theatre, and then walking you through a recreated backstage: dressing rooms, costuming, make-up, wigs, sound, lights, set design, props, the whole deal.

It was interesting and fun to remember shows I’d mostly forgotten about. But I think I expected something more immersive and interactive. So I can’t say I loved it. I am glad I went, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves theatre.

The Show

Why I went to The City was to see The Show. After the museum I grabbed a quick lunch at a café and then headed to the Hudson Theatre, which was right around the corner.

Merrily We Roll Along (the musical) is based on a play of the same name by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. The original production opened in 1981. With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, a book by George Furth, and a production directed by Hal Prince, it ought to have been a big hit. The three had previously worked together on Company, which won them all Tony Awards and also won for Best Musical. But, alas, it was not to be. The show was panned by critics. Audiences walked out. And it closed after just 16 performances.

The current Broadway revival is an entirely different story. The book underwent some major revisions. I’m not sure exactly what changed, but it’s been a huge success, winning the 2024 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival and acting awards for two of its stars, Jonathan Groff and Daniel Radcliffe.

To say I loved it is too much of an understatement, but I’m not sure what I could say that wouldn’t be. (The entire audience was eating it up too.) It was funny, clever, and poignant. And, well, I’ve always loved Sondheim, and his songs and lyrics were as good as any of his other shows.

Cast performance of “Old Friends” from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Show-stopping number sung by Daniel Radcliffe from the Original Cast Album
A performance by Bernadette Peters of “Not a Day Goes By,” one of my favorite songs from the show and one of Sondheim’s greatest songs, period. In the show it was sung by Katie Rose Clarke, who was also damn fine.

It seems they are going to be filming the live production, so it will be available at some point to watch on TV. I can’t wait to see it again! I might have a watch party. Let me know if you want to come.

Central Jersey?

I’ve always thought of this part of New Jersey, where my mom lives, as central Jersey. But chatting with family last weekend, I came to learn that it is considered south Jersey.

I say they’re all wrong.

Mom lives at the blue dot. It’s about 90 miles to Cape May, the southernmost point in the state, and 93 miles to Alpine, the northernmost town along the eastern edge of the state. That puts us squarely in the middle.

Granted, it’s a little farther north to the very northernmost point in the state (about 130 miles), but there’s just too much New Jersey south of here.

Does that blue dot look like it’s in southern NJ?

4 Responses

  1. Tim

    Wow! NYC always steals one’s heart. I miss my trips to the city to do a marathon of musicals.
    I’m glad you got to see Merrily. I’m a bit envious, but would gladly say yes to a viewing party. 


  2. Joy Sherman

    Hi Lane,

    It’s always good to read your blog! Hope you’re having a fabulous time with your mom and family! Love you — let’s talk when you can.


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