by Devin Wallace. @thedevinwallace.
NEW YORK, NY - The Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along is succeeding where the original fell flat, by adhering to the successful modern Broadway formula of simply having the actor Jonathan Groff.
“When I signed on to direct, I thought of everything that makes a show work,” said director Maria Friedman, who signed on after a three-second presentation of the word “Groff.” “The set, the pacing, the overall tone. Then I said forget all that! All we need is Johnny Groff’s sweet, spitty lips and we’re golden, baby.”
Those funding the show were equally as confident in their show’s formula.
“A smart producer listens to Broadway’s successes,” said financier Lynne Gould as she scribbled “Groff + War Horse?” on a cocktail napkin. “Spring Awakening? Jonathan Groff. Hamilton? Jonathan Groff. Spider Man: Turn Off The Dark? No Jonathan Groff. The facts are obvious.”
Not everyone was convinced having Jonathan Groff was all the show needed to succeed. Producer Ken Biff described a test they performed for preview audiences.
“First we performed the show with Jonathan Groff, as planned. Audience loved it. Then we had Jonathan Groff sing unrelated songs during the show, random stuff Duran Duran and HAIM. Audience loved it,” said Biff, blindly signing a contract titled Groff Muppets Thing.
“Finally, we had Groff stare dead-eyed at the audience and repeat the word 'Nebuchadnezzar' in a haunting, cryptic whisper. Audiences loved it! It proved if you have Jonathan Groff, you can do anything,” finished Biff, whispering the word “anything” into our ears for what felt like several minutes.
Keen Broadway experts also noted the show’s success resulted from a similar corollary they called “Putting Daniel Fucking Radcliffe On Stage Where That Beautiful Talented Boy Belongs.”