Blame youtube for my obsession with this song. Even more, blame the wonderful modern phenomenon of theatre–live–to–cinema relays, or ‘recordings as if live’. I saw this musical, ‘Merrily We Roll Along’ in the cinema earlier this year, and was entranced by its simple poignancy – three friends who cannot hold onto their friendship – and how that is reflected melodically.
Because of the story being told backwards –not original but nevertheless and very effective –this song, representing the inception and idealism of their friendship and the accompanying the youthful optimism, is what closes the show. Musically it’s stirring and gorgeous, all three main protagonists chipping into the growing excitement and joined by a swelling chorus at the end.
There are dozens of youtube clips of this song –I’ve checked most of them out. Perhaps my favourite, though least polished, comes from the sophomore acting and musical theatre majors from Ithaca College performing this as an ensemble. What must it have been like for a group of 19 year olds (?) to be together, singing these lyrics? Feeling, indeed, like it’s their time –‘worlds to change and worlds to win’. Almost everyone in the class gets a line or two to sing –one girl goes a little off key and the camera catches her face crumpling to disappointment after her contribution –but this too is precious.
And oh, Mr. Sondheim, how wonderful that this musical theatre production which starts at the relationship’s end with cynicism and disappointment, should end so joyously, at the relationship’s beginning with this joyous, forward-looking, uniting anthem to purposeful living. Long live youthful idealism!