Watch Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened...
- 1 hr 35 min
Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened... is a documentary film that takes a behind-the-scenes look at the making and subsequent failure of the Broadway musical Merrily We Roll Along in 1981. The film is directed by Lonny Price, who also starred in the original production and chronicles the events leading up to and following the musical's premiere.
The documentary is not just a retrospective on the production but also delves into the hopes and dreams of upwardly mobile artists, including composer Stephen Sondheim, director Harold Prince, and several of the young and eager actors who made their Broadway debuts in the show. The film paints a portrait of an entire generation of theater hopefuls seeking to find their place in the world, and it provides a fascinating window into the passionate and sometimes overambitious world of Broadway.
The documentary is divided into three acts, each highlighting a different aspect of the production. The first act is all about the auditions, casting, and rehearsals in New York City. It heavily focuses on the young actors who were recruited from across the country to appear in the show. These actors talk about their excitement at the opportunity to star in a Broadway musical, as well as their naivete about the industry, the individual roles, and the intense pressure to perform.
The second act of the documentary focuses on the opening night of the show and the subsequent critical and commercial failure that it suffered. The film interviews many of the key figures involved in the production, including Sondheim, Prince, and Frank Rich, the New York Times theater critic who famously panned the show. The interviews convey the disappointment of the artists who poured their hearts and souls into the production, and the documentary manages to capture the heartbreak and trauma of experiencing such a colossal professional failure.
In the final act of the film, Price and his team reunite the original cast of Merrily We Roll Along in New York City nearly three decades after the original production. The documentary shows the dedicated cast reuniting and relearning the songs and characters that they originally brought to life all those years ago. The film also shows the cast putting on a one-night-only concert to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the opening night of the original production.
Throughout the documentary, Price effectively uses archival footage and interviews with current and former Broadway luminaries to contextualize Merrily's production and its subsequent failure in the larger world of Broadway. The film is both a tribute to the passion and drive of everyone involved in Merrily, as well as a cautionary tale of how the fickle and often unforgiving world of theater can make or break even the most hopeful and talented of artists.
Overall, Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened... is a heartfelt and insightful documentary that captures the excitement and disappointment of making and breaking a Broadway show. It is a beautiful and poignant tribute to the artists who had big dreams, took risks, and ultimately learned valuable lessons about the intersection of art and business. This film is a must-see for anyone who's ever dreamed of making it big in the world of theater, as well as for those fascinated by the inner workings of the Broadway machine.
Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened... is a 2016 documentary with a runtime of 1 hour and 35 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.6 and a MetaScore of 81.