Merrily We Roll Along - United Players

2017 Was a busy year. I directed Merrily We Roll Along for United Players. I came on board very last minute and had to rush into casting half the cast and production decisions right away. As those who know how difficult this show is at best of times, you can appreciate I believe this cast and production team put on a beautiful product.

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Christopher King directs an entertaining United Players production with a cast of 15 and a five-piece orchestra.
— Jerry Wasserman - Vancouverplays.com

Director’s Notes:

In the beginning, Merrily We Roll Along was considered a “problem” play. The original 1981 production closed after only 16 performances on Broadway. Over the years, many attempts were made to fix the musical, to little success. Paths were followed, mistakes were made; but ultimately the highly successful partnership of Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince never recovered from this “failure.”

In Merrily We Roll Along, as in most Sondheim shows, we see real people in situations we can all see ourselves in. These friends could so easily be us. The story reminds us that choices we face are not always black and white - right and wrong are not always so clear. While many musicals tend to moralize and ultimately explain why one decision is clearly better than another, this one does not. Frank is not a bad guy. In reality his biggest mistake is saying “yes” when he really should say “no.” And if we’re all honest about it, how many of us haven’t been in that exact situation?

Ultimately, Merrily We Roll Along is about friendship and the choices we make along the way. By starting the musical at the end and then watching the story unfold in reverse, we see the crushing sadness and tragedy in a much more poignant way.  When we finally reach the end of the musical, which is really the beginning of this friendship, we view their hopeful, optimistic outlook on life as a bitter irony.

After many years of rewrites and changes, it’s hard to believe that Merrily We Roll Along was first viewed as a problem play. It has had successful Broadway revivals, toured, and continues to be performed around the world. Perhaps if Sondheim and Prince has the same advantage of seeing their partnership in reverse, they might have made different choices and Merrily might have been a huge hit when it first opened.  But in hindsight, maybe they never would have written it at all. We can all be glad that they did, because now we can discuss and enjoy this musical for all that it shows us about ourselves.

It is my pleasure to direct this show with United Players, a company that is committed to bringing the works of Sondheim to the Jericho Arts Centre. Enjoy the show.


Christopher King

Two Views from the Sylvia - Kol Halev - Waterfront Theatre

2017 I was hired to direct a show about the Sylvia Hotel. It was a hugely rewarding experience, but a lot of work. I had to dramaturg as well as direct. The show had 2 separate plays in one show with different playwrights and composers for each. I believe we put on a great show, and workshop in one.

Photo: Christopher King

Photo: Christopher King

The evening has a decidedly home-grown quality; it is not a slick Broadway show but an evening that evokes memories of gentler times in Vancouver when “Dine in the Sky” meant having dinner eight-storeys up.
— Jo Ledingham - VanCourier.com

Director’s Notes:

When I was first approached about directing this project, I was immediately struck with interest.The name Sylvia Hotel conjures images of the history, the iconic building, the stunning location. Well known to me and any other life long Vancouverite, it’s apart of who I am and how define myself. As work started I told friends about what I was working on, and I found that as soon as I mentioned the Sylvia to them, they had the same struck feeling I had. I realized after this happened a few times, that the Sylvia really has had an impact on almost everyone that knows this city. Everyone has a connection with the hotel.

This work has been down a long road to this point and this production is another step in its development. The team and I have worked hard with passion to help realize a fully staged production of this new work. This is a new work, and will hopefully have another life going forward. Just like the real Sylvia hotel, I hope that the story of the Sylvia and the people that have lived/stayed there endures far beyond just one week of performances. I hope the story goes on and it told for years to come.

I hope you will enjoy the stories told here. I hope you will contribute to its history going forward. As much as we celebrate the Sylvia hotel as the beautiful building with its is with ivy and incredible view, it is the people that endow a space with life. It’s the stories of the family that started the hotel, and the residents and guests that truly make the Sylvia what is is: Our Vancouver jewel, in the crown of English bay overlooking the ocean, and all the possibilities that still lay in the future of this little brick building.

Christopher King

Parfumerie - Metro Theatre

In 2014 I had the pleasure of directing Parfumerie for the Metro Theatre in Vancouver. Here is some info and reviews about the show

Stefan Winfield as Sipos and Lauren Dutchak as Amalia

Stefan Winfield as Sipos and Lauren Dutchak as Amalia

Metro Theater’s production is a tender treat to watch from start to finish.
— Cora Li - Vancouverscape.com
It’s two drops of sweet pink rosy posy love struck dreams with five drops of lust mixed with two parts deceit and 2 oz of laughter that makes this play an welcome escape from the modern world of chaos to the simple nostalgic world of yesteryear where sweet love conquers all.
— Dianne - FabulouslyFrugalinVancouver.com

Fabulously Frugal in Vancouver

My Director’s Notes:

The walls, floors, and ceilings of our lives may seem to only hold us inside, keep us from the outside. To some, our homes, work places, even theatres may look and feel like cages. But to others, buildings and places are what keep us grounded. They are physical foundations upon which we build our lives. In 1937 Budapest, Hammerschmidt's Parfumerie is just the sort of foundation that people would build their entire lives on; a store of repute and quality that people would work in for their whole lives, and be glad for it. To the workers, it's a place where there is family. It is a home. And in the world of Parfumerie the play, we see only this store and the action and lives that move through its doors and floors. Although we are a year before World War 2 and all the political and social conflict that comes with it, there is still a longing for this time and place. A longing to be able to shop in a store like this, to have attentive and professional service without a talk of low wages and high turnover. In our modern world, we stores like L'Occitane and Kiehl's that attempt to recreate what makes Hammerschmidt's so wonderful. But we can never fully recreate it. In Parfumerie we find one love is fresh, like a new perfume that you can't quite place, and one love that fades when we smell too often the familiar. Will the walls, floors and ceilings keep these characters from living their lives, or will it help ground them and show them the way? Though the original hungarian play was made into many well known movies I know you will find a fresh new story that's more then just a romantic comedy. Please come on into Hammerschmidt's and look around I know you'll find exactly what you need.