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Richard Linklater To Film ‘Merrily We Roll Along’ Musical Adaptation Over 20 Years

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Richard Linklater

In 2014, director Richard Linklater earned Golden Globe gold for Boyhood. Shot over 12 years, the film follows a boy growing up in Texas. Now, the director is doing another film of this kind. Instead of 12 years, his next movie will be shot over 20 years.

That’s A Lot Of Filming

Linklater announced his new project will be a film adaptation of Merrily We Roll Along. Released in 1934, the play follows a playwright through 30 years. The play showcased his life in reverse order, which ended with him as a college graduate. The original Broadway play ran for 155 performances before ending. In 1981, composer Stephen Sondheim and playwright George Furth turned it into a musical. Much like the original play, the story is told in reverse order. The musical adaptation became a huge hit with audiences around the world.

“I first saw and fell in love with Merrily in the ‘80s, and I can’t think of a better place to spend the next 20 years than in the world of a Sondheim musical. I don’t enter this multiyear experience lightly, but it seems the best, perhaps the only way, to do this story justice on film,” Linklater said in a statement.

Who’s In The Cast?

For a film taking 20 years to make, only a select few were brave enough to do it. Beanie Feldstein, Blake Jenner, and Ben Platt will spend the next two decades working on the flick. Feldstein is best known for her work in Lady BirdBooksmart, and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. Since high school, she’s been best friends with her future co-star Platt. The two worked with each other on The Female Brain and Will & Grace. In 2017, she made her Broadway debut alongside Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly! She’ll portray Monica Lewinsky on American Crime Story: Impeachment. 

Jenner is best known for his portrayal of Ryder Lynn on Glee. The Miami native earned the role after winning The Glee Project. His performance earned him a Teen Choice Award for Choice TV: Breakout Star in 2013. Jenner has since appeared in The Edge of Seventeen and The Vanishing of Sidney Hall. In 2017, he wrote, co-produced, and starred in the drama Billy Boy. He can currently be seen on the Netflix thriller What/If.

Platt earned the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in Dear Evan Hansen. His work on the Broadway musical also gained him an Obie Award, a Grammy, and a Daytime Emmy Award. In March, Platt released his debut album Sing to Me Instead. On September 27, he’ll appear on the Netflix comedy The Politician, which he executive produced.

Nothing New For Linklater

For Boyhood, Linklater admitted there was some uncertainty in carrying out a massive project. “We filmmakers are control freaks. For us, it’s about bending the elements of a story into existence. But in this case, you had to give up full control and admit you have a major collaborator sitting with you at all times. And that’s the unknown, the future. You’re counting on it being there, but you don’t know what it is yet,” he told Telegraph.

Linklater embarked on a project similar to this with Before Sunrise. Released in 1995, the romantic drama stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Because of a great response, he continued the story with 2004’s Before Sunset. The film takes place nine years after the first movie. In 2013, Linklater released Before Midnight, which also takes place nine years after the previous filmBefore Sunset and Before Midnight both earned Oscar nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay. Hawke and Delpy gained screenwriting credits for Before Sunset and Before Midnight.

Linklater didn’t waste any time working on his version of Merrily We Roll Along. Principal photography for the first part of the movie is already complete. The film will wrap up sometime around 2039. Merrily We Roll Along will be released through Blumhouse.

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