Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened is a documentary directed by Lonny Price on the side of the 1981 Merrily We Roll Along that the public didn’t get to see. Any theatre and Sondheim lover knows that Merrily We Roll Along is one of the greatest flops of all time, but in this film we get to see that from the perspective of the performers, Hal Prince, and Stephen Sondheim himself.
This film should be a required viewing for anyone that wants to pursue a career in theatre. It is a reminder that the bright lights, the glitz, the glamour, and the fame don’t come with every single show and the risk that starring on Broadway really runs.
The cinematography is very beautifully done, editing between interviews with the former cast, and never before seen footage of the original Broadway production. I really liked that they showed almost a “Where are they now?” sequence at the end of the movie.
If I were to compare this film to anything in the world, I would say that this film is almost like a high school yearbook, starting with pictures or videos of the cast from years ago, followed by the pages with their clubs (The footage of the show itself), and concluding with the “Where are they going to college” page and a back cover with the class photo
It really I personally am a big fan of Merrily We Roll Along, and it was very interesting to see how much the show had to be changed. I for one am very happy that they continued to rewrite the show. I think the show finally hit its full potential in the City Center Encores production back in 2012 with Colin Donnell, Lin Manuel-Miranda, and Celia Keenan-Bolger.
It’s a very magical moment watching a few of the cast members return to the theatre, and seeing Jim Walton sit down at the piano, and sing Growing Up, a song that was added to the show after the original production had closed. It’s a very emotional moment watching as they look into their old dressing rooms and recount the moments.
I highly recommend this film to any theatre fan. It’s a beautiful and important documentary that really showcases the wonder that was and still is Merrily We Roll Along and Broadway as a whole. It really was, the best worst thing that ever could have happened.
A college student at SUNY Purchase, I see many shows on Broadway annually and love theatre.