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Our Time: The World of Merrily We Roll Along

Our Time: The World of Merrily We Roll Along

Roundabout Theatre Company

Merrily We Roll Along :

Our Time: The World of Merrily We Roll Along

“...we were writing about a generation’s idealistic expectations for the future, symbolized by the launch of Sputnik, and their deterioration into compromise and deceit, exemplified by Nixon and Watergate and culminating in the Me Decade, as the 1970’s came to be labeled.”

— Stephen Sondheim 

In conceiving Merrily We Roll Along, Stephen Sondheim and George Furth were attentive to the history unfolding around their characters. These are some major events that Frank, Charley, Mary, and their peers would have lived through during the show’s timeline.

1979: “Rich and Happy”

  • Michael Jackson’s breakthrough album “Off the Wall” released
  • Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd premieres on Broadway
  • In 1980 Ronald Reagan will be elected POTUS & launch conservative Reagan Era

1976: Frank and Charley’s Last Fight

  • Democrat Jimmy Carter wins presidential election
  • 1st Apple computer built by Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak
  • "Saturday Night Live" enters 2nd season
  • 1st punk rock band "The Damned" debuts

1973: Charley and Frank on TV

  • Watergate scandal hearings conducted in Senate
  • Roe v. Wade assures abortion as constitutional right
  • Sharp worldwide inflation hits consumers
  • Paris Peace Accord ends U.S. war with Vietnam
  • Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in most-viewed tennis match ever

1966-1968 Frank and Beth Divorce

  • 500,000+ U.S. soldiers fight in Vietnam—protests erupt across U.S.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated
  • McDonald's introduces Big Mac (49¢)
  • Hair plays on Broadway

1964: “It’s a Hit” on Broadway

  • Lyndon B. Johnson is POTUS after JFK assassination in '63
  • Congress authorizes Vietnam War
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. wins Nobel Peace Prize
  • The Beatles make 1st U.S. television appearance

1962: Frank and Charley Meet “The Blob”

  • Cuban Missile Crisis nearly starts new world war
  • Marilyn Monroe sings “Happy Birthday” to JFK; 3 months later dies of pill overdose
  • Spider-Man first appears in Marvel Comics
  • West Side Story movie (lyrics by Sondheim) released

1960-1961: Frank and Beth Get Married

  • Democrat John F. Kennedy becomes POTUS
  • 1st U.S. troops sent to Vietnam
  • Birth control pill approved by FDA
  • Chubby Checker's "The Twist" starts dance craze

1958-1960: Opening Doors!

  • VP Nixon & USSR Premier Khrushchev debate capitalism vs. communism on television
  • Cuba is 1st communist country in the west
  • Gypsy (lyrics by Sondheim) opens on Broadway

1957: “Our Time”

  • USSR launches first satellite Sputnik, and the space race begins  
  • Republican Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower is POTUS since 1953
  • My Fair Lady wins Tony for Best Musical
  • “American Bandstand” premieres on TV

Merrily We Roll Along is now playing the at the Laura Pels Theatre through April 7th. For tickets, please visit