Daniel Radcliffe Unravels Performing 'Franklin Shepard Inc. in 'Merrily We Roll Along

Exploring the revival of a classic musical's unique storytelling.

by Nouman Rasool
Daniel Radcliffe Unravels Performing 'Franklin Shepard Inc. in 'Merrily We Roll Along
© Theo Wargo/Getty Images

If there is a standout in "Merrily We Roll Along," it's Daniel Radcliffe, singing "Franklin Shepard Inc." Oh, and the name of this character is Charley Kringas, and he goes off in a full-on public meltdown right in front of the live television cameras.

In a recently released music video, exclusively spotlighted by Entertainment Weekly, viewers can see thejsonline Radcliffe beljsonlineeing it out in the recording studio, though not in full costume, but with headphones on, obviously to get into character.

The video is very creative in the way it merges live singing with animated images writing out the lyrics in almost a mechanical and disconnected style, much like letters cut out for a ransom note, thus making the scene more emotionally disheveled.

It also juxtaposes these studio images with clips of Radcliffe as Charley and Jonathan Groff as Franklin Shepard, further enriching the narrative.

Rewinding Broadway's Journey

"Merrily We Roll Along," based on music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by George Furth, follows the lives of three friends—Charley, Franklin, and Mary (played by Lindsay Mendez)—in a unique reverse chronological order.

It starts with their jaded middle age and moves backward to their initial hopeful encounters in New York. The musical, despite its groundbreaking narrative and celebrated score, initially faced challenges, closing after only 16 performances following its 1981 Broadway debut.

However, the current production marks a triumphant return to Broadway, reviving interest and appreciation for this complex story. It is currently playing at the Hudson Theater, capturing the hearts of a new generation of theatergoers until July 7.

Radcliffe, once famed for his decade-long role in a globally beloved wizarding series, transforms into Charley with an understated yet charismatic energy. Entertainment Weekly praises his "zippy performance" as a highlight of the show, noting his ability to juxtapose Charley's internal struggle with his outward charm and principled disdain for the entertainment industry's machinations.

And this "revival captures his full range". It's not just that Radcliffe "galvanizes in this new 'Company'," as The New York Times recently profiled him. "It's that he makes Sondheim sound shockingly good, reminding people of his brilliance," they continued.

Such latest work in the theatre by Radcliffe reaffirms his flexibility and commitment to accepting diverse, challenging roles, as his confidence seems always to redefine his artistic path.

Daniel Radcliffe