It’s rare that you’re hit by the smell of popcorn when you enter a West End auditorium, yet last night the waft of the sweet confectionary mixed with the scent of excitement as Digital Theatre’s filmed version of the Menier Chocolate Factory’s Merrily We Roll Along received its UK premiere.
Cast, crew and invited guests including Jeeves And Wooster star Stephen Mangan were on hand to give the production – which will be screened in 460 US movie theatres tomorrow, 300 UK cinemas on Thursday and, by the end of its release in 2014, more than 1,000 screens worldwide – a rousing reception.
The production, directed by first-time director but long-time Sondheim aficionado Maria Friedman, received great acclaim when it first opened at the intimate Menier Chocolate Factory in November 2012 before repeating the trick when it transferred to the West End’s Harold Pinter theatre earlier this year. With limited runs in both venues, the production, which collected a raft of five star reviews, can now reach a much wider audience.
With a cast featuring Mark Umbers, Jenna Russell and Damian Humbley as the central trio, supported by performers including Clare Foster, Josefina Gabrielle and Zizi Strallen, Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s Merrily We Roll Along charts the changing relationship between three friends across three decades in the entertainment industry, backwards, from an unhappy ending to a beginning full of youthful potential.
Working closely with Friedman, the Digital Theatre team, led by co-founders Robert Delamere and Tom Shaw, filmed three performances across two days, which were edited together to created the final cinematic release.
The screening is the first in the West End Theatre Series created by Digital Theatre in partnership with CinemaLive, and will be followed by the Chichester Festival Theatre production of Private Lives that starred Toby Stephens and Anna Chancellor. The latter will be seen in the US on 11 December and will be released to UK venues from 6 February 2014.
To find out more about where and when you can see Merrily We Roll Along screened, visit the CinemaLive website.