Ben Platt says that Richard Linklater’s adaptation of Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along will fix the primary flaw of the original musical.
Merrily We Roll Along tells the story of the disintegration of the relationship between a playwright and his two best friends in reverse chronological order. The story takes place over 20 years, and Linklater plans to film the movie over the same period of time, as he did with his 12-year project Boyhood.
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The Politician star, who has signed up to play Charley alongside Beanie Feldstein’s Mary in the film, says that the real-time filming plan will give the musical greater emotional heft.
“Not many people outside of the theatre community are familiar with Merrily Roll Along, and I think don’t understand what a brilliant marriage of concept to material it is, because it’s an incredibly brilliant piece of theatre but the flaw has always been believing these people at certain ages,” Platt tells RadioTimes.com.
“You have actors playing a bit too young by the end of the show, or you have actors playing a bit too old at the top of the show, and so [in the movie version] to get to really watch a friendship fall apart backwards in real time, and watch these older jaded adults grow back into young naive college students will be really emotionally powerful.”
Glee’s Blake Jenner will play the lead role in the film version as Frank Shepard, a hugely successful songwriter and film producer. Merrily We Roll Along will trace his path back to his beginnings as a penniless composer, and explore what he gave up along the way to get there.
Platt jokes that taking on this gargantuan long-term role is “a reason to stay well.”
“It’s a nice checkpoint for life going forward,” he says. “I think most people that hear about it are hearing about the 18 years part and the Richard Linklater part, and he’s brilliant, and it’s his concept and he’s perfect for it.”
Merrily We Roll Along will be out in UK cinemas… in a couple of decades. Ben Platt stars in The Politician, streaming on Netflix from Friday (27th September).