The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday June 10th

Company Carolina play seeks to back that act up

Company Carolina's production of Stephen Sondheim's "Merrily We Roll Along," a musical comedy in reverse, is coming to the ArtsCenter in Carrboro Friday. The musical centers on a classic story of fame, power and corruption as three best friends discover the true price of selling one's soul to the entertainment industry. "What's really intriguing about the play is that it's a musical comedy, but it's done completely in reverse," said lead actress Kelly McCrann, a UNC senior who plays Mary Flynn in the production. "The characters are living their lives in reverse, and the audience gets the opportunity to see the way lives can fall apart and how they got that way, as opposed to following people's lives through the mistakes that they make," she said. Filled with romance, treachery, seduction and betrayal, the musical has all the essential ingredients for a scandalous good time. "I think it's a great way of showing what can happen when people become successful and get into the world of money and power," said lead actress Haley Swindal, a UNC sophomore who plays the role of the flamboyant actress Gussie Carnegie. Junior Matthew Scott Montgomery said the play is something that everyone can relate to. "It kind of flirts with the idea of selling out, how people change once they get famous and how relationships can fall apart from that," said Montogomery, who plays Charley Kringras. Freshman Patrick Harrison will make his acting debut in the role of Frank Shepard, a famous Hollywood producer who built his career around the concept of achieving fame and fortune by any means necessary. The play chronicles the deterioration of the once bright-eyed optimism of Shepard, Kringras and Flynn as they look toward the future from the threshold of their college graduation and the resulting downfall each character suffers as they are eaten alive by their own vices. "It follows the story of Mary, Charley and Frank's friendship, and while it focuses on Frank's journey, it highlights how their friendships and relationships change," McCrann said. Director Gregory Kable said "Merrily We Role Along" is a play that deals with the universal themes of love and friendship while trying to juggle a personal life and maintain a career in the arts. The main characters have perfected the art of seamless transition from one role to another, both in life and on stage. The trio graduate with eager illusions of following their respective goals, only to have their dreams dashed and characters compromised. Overall, it's a cautionary tale that, "warns people about what can happen when you get out into the real world with all of your focus on getting rich and powerful," Swindal said. "The main message is that you should follow your dreams in life without letting fame and success cloud those dreams." McCrann said it is important for people to realize their dreams. "As we are all on the cusp of the real world, we're having to define our own lives and our own dreams, and this play gives us a what-if of our lives," she said. "It gives our peers a look into the future." "They are truly amazing people to work with," said Swindal of her second production with Company Carolina. "It's been an honor for me, and the show has been such a great opportunity - a learning experience about life and about theater." ATTEND THE SHOW Time/Date: Jan. 27-29 and Feb. 2-4, 8 p.m.; Jan. 29 and Feb. 4-5, 2 p.m. Location: Carrboro ArtsCenter Info: Contact the A&E Editor at


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