If anything, having the opportunity to work with your longtime best friend is a once-in-a-lifetime chance, but what about the chance to work with them over the course of 20 years? Fitting with the original stage musical's reverse chronology, Merrily We Roll Along starring Ben Platt and Beanie Feldstein will span 20 years, both onscreen and during the filming process. How does a trip to the movies in 2039 sound?
Director Richard Linklater announced on Aug. 29 that he will direct a movie adaptation of the stage musical Merrily We Roll Along, which originally opened on Broadway in 1981. Moving backward in time, the story details how fictional Broadway composer Franklin Shepard gradually left behind his friends in favor of Hollywood fame. On Twitter, Broadway veteran and Pitch Perfect star Platt confirmed he will play Frank's best friend Charley Kringas, while his real-life best friend Feldstein is set to portray Mary Flynn, a friend of the men. Former Glee star Blake Jenner will appear as Frank.
Actors in a stage production of the Stephen Sondheim musical are obviously limited to depicting these time-hopping characters while remaining the same age in actuality. Linklater plans to handle his film differently. Similar to his Oscar-nominated movie Boyhood, which filmed over 12 years, the new project will be filmed over the course of 20 years in order to match the ages the characters are throughout the story. With the three main actors now in their 20s, filming for the movie's earliest time period has already been completed.
"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," Linklater said in a statement. "I don’t enter this multi-year experience lightly, but it seems the best, perhaps the only way, to do this story justice on film."
Those familiar with Feldstein's career may know that she already has a well-documented connection to Merrily We Roll Along. In Lady Bird, Feldstein's character played Mary in the school production of Merrily We Roll Along. The Booksmart star also utilized a Merrily We Roll Along lyric to capture her feelings about the project, and Platt, with whom she's been close friends since high school, writing on Instagram, "Me and you, pal. Me and you."
On his Instagram, Jenner wrote, "Beyond grateful to be part of this wonderful film. Working with [Platt] and [Feldstein] has already been an absolute dream. Plus they’re just really friggin cool people."
Platt also celebrated the news in a heartfelt tweet, saying, "This project has already been one of the most special blessings of my life. Me, my favorite person [Feldstein], and sweet [Jenner] get to portray dream roles in this brilliant marriage of piece and concept."
Given this 20-year timeline, the finished film will likely hit theaters somewhere between 2039 and 2040. So, in other words, you have plenty of time to familiarize yourself with the Merrily We Roll Along music before the film premieres.