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"Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened" Is The Best Thing You Could be Watching.

When a dream that’s too good to be true really does come true, it’s bound to be a let down. So, what comes next? “Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened” is a fascinating documentary streamable right now on Netflix Australia. The Prop recommends it for viewing by any performer with a passion for making it big. Hell, it's for anyone that's ever dared to dream. 

The documentary tracks the journey of the original Broadway cast of “Merrily We Roll Along”, 1981. The show was a part of a long-standing creative partnership between musical theatre gods, Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince. Over a time period of ten years, the two had introduced the world to raging successes including Company, Follies, A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd. Needless to say, before its premiere, their next project had lot of a promise in store for it, and a lot of fanfare surrounding it. The young cast of unknowns, all hand-selected by their idols, were ecstatic. Life happens here! That is, right up until preview number one, when they had to watch the audience's backs as they walked out mid-performance. Lasting just sixteen performances beyond opening night, the world premiere for Merrily We Roll Along soon became one of Broadway’s most famous flops. 

Heartbroken by this experience, “Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened” is created by one of the cast, Lonny Price. It presents a heap of unseen footage of the creation of the show, and exclusive interviews with members of the cast as well as creatives Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince. The film importantly takes us beyond the closing of the show and goes on to see how the performers deal with the great let-down, and how they decide to go on with their lives. The life experience of this handful of actors is at times euphoric and at other times devastating; something that, no matter what choices they’ve all made since, they will always have in common.

In a remarkable fashion, the lives of these performers is reflective of the story in Merrily We Roll Along. For those who don’t know, the musical is a story told in reverse of a collection of disillusioned adults who we eventually see as starry-eyed teenage hopefuls on their graduation day. ‘How did we come to this?’ is the message that springs to mind, but the documentary encourages us to delve deeper. Dream big, sure, but there’s no one thing to be working toward. Disappointment is one thing, but it doesn't have to dictate your next step. There are so many different versions of happy. That’s what I took away from it, anyway. The individuals who let us into their lives for this groundbreaking documentary are open to your reading of their journey. 

Both the adults and their younger selves, who we observe in “Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened”, give us insight into an intensely interesting life-event, and, in doing so, teach a really valuable lesson. By the way, the docco is underscored by the wonderful - there I said it - music from the actual musical. That could be the best thing ever. Maybe. 


Deadset On New Australian Musicals.

The Bleeding Tree - Sydney Theatre Company