“Merrily We Roll Along” with the Punches: Daniel Radcliffe and Costars Host Impromptu Q&A After Canceled Show
As the infamous thespian saying goes, “the show must go on.” Merrily We Roll Along stars Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Groff (Frozen, The Matrix Resurrections), and Lindsay Mendez (Modern Family, Elementary) did their best to keep true to the expression when the December 26 performance at New York Theatre Workshop was ultimately canceled due to technical difficulties.
A tweet posted by @dramafiends explained that audience members patiently waited in their seats for over an hour as crew members worked to sort out technical issues. Last week’s intense winter storm, which resulted in substantial snowy mayhem across the United States, turned out to also be the cause of the show’s cancelation. Radcliffe, who came onstage with his costars to announce the circumstances, explained that some equipment vital to the show had been frozen and “done in by the cold.”
After a heartfelt apology to the audience from Radcliffe, Groff added, “We have a little bit of time before we have to get out of mics and costumes, so we thought if you have any questions for us…” Thankfully, the offer was accepted with audible excitement from the crowd, and some of their most burning questions were answered.
@dramafiendspod Replying to @katyakup daniel radcliffe, jonathan groff, and lindsay mendez offer to have a q&a with the audience after last night’s production of “merrily we roll along” @nytw79 had to be cancelled! #broadway ♬ original sound – Drama Fiends Podcast
One person asked, “Being in a show and having to do it over and over and over again, does it ever get old to keep doing the same thing?” Groff, a seasoned stage performer and two-time Tony Award nominee, answered, “I’m like an addict. I might be the saddest person in the theater tonight that the show isn’t happening.” He continued to say that repeated performances don’t get old, “particularly this show because the music and the lyrics and the characters are so complex.”
@dramafiendspod Replying to @maggieslookbook more from the merrily we roll along q&a with jonathan groff, daniel radcliffe, and lindsay mendez last night @nytw79 ♬ original sound – Drama Fiends Podcast
Another audience member inquired if the actors have “any postshow or preshow rituals.” Radcliffe and Mendez started poking fun at Groff’s tardiness. Mendez lightheartedly commented, “A lot of times, we don’t know if he’s here or not, and Dan will run down the hallway and be like, ‘Jonathan, are you here?!’ just screaming to make sure he’s in the building.” Radcliffe followed up with, “I don’t need him to be ready; I just need to know he’s here,” while Groff could be seen laughing and looking a little guilty.
@dramafiendspod lindsay mendez, daniel radcliffe and jonathan groff answering audience questions after a performance of merrily we roll along is cancelled due to technical difficulties #fyp ♬ original sound – Drama Fiends Podcast
One audience member brought up the show’s history when they asked, “Why do you think the show didn’t work in the original Broadway production, but it works now?” Mendez, an experienced Broadway star and Tony Award winner, answered by saying, given the intensity of the characters’ lives and the plot, the original cast might have been too young to play characters older than their true selves. She added that her own age and life experiences helped her grasp the complexity of the story. Radcliffe followed Mendez’s comment by explaining that this rendition of the musical pulls focus toward the characters’ friendships and their emotional journey.
@dramafiendspod Replying to @emilymc75 ♬ original sound – Drama Fiends Podcast
For those who aren’t familiar with the history and why it previously “didn’t work,” Merrily We Roll Along is considered to be Stephen Sondheim’s biggest flop. The original 1981 Broadway musical, written by Sondheim and George Furth (who later turned the musical into a book in 1999), was based on a play from 1934 by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. Sondheim’s 1981 production closed after 16 performances, “crushing reviews and audiences leaving in droves.” It’s since been revitalized by Maria Friedman, who directed renditions in London, England; Boston, Massachusetts; and currently, New York. According to an interview with Friedman in the New York Times, Sondheim saw Friedman’s renewal of the show in 2012 and praised her direction of the show, saying it was“the best I’ve seen,” which is probably a big reason why it works in 2022 with Radcliffe, Mendez, and Groff taking on the roles.
All in all, despite the unfortunate cancelation of Merrily We Roll Along, audiences seemed to enjoy the impromptu session with the show’s stars before heading home for the evening. The musical will continue performances at New York Theatre Workshop through January 22 before transferring to Broadway in fall 2023.