Go Behind the Scenes at Broadway's Merrily We Roll Along | Playbill

Broadway News Go Behind the Scenes at Broadway's Merrily We Roll Along

Leana Rae Concepcion took fans backstage while taking over Playbill's Instagram.

When actor Leana Rae Concepcion brought fans behind the scenes of Broadway's Merrily We Roll Along for a two-show day, nothing was off limits! The takeover of Playbill's Instagram was filled with surprises on May 25.

Concepcion made her Broadway debut in the show. She plays Claudia, Newscaster, and Auditionee in the hit revival of Merrily, which opened October 10, 2023, at the Hudson Theatre, where it continues through July 7. Directed by Olivier winner Maria Friedman, the work features music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by George Furth. It's currently up for seven nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical.

Below are five new things we learned about the Merrily production.

Lighting booth at Merrily We Roll Along Leana Rae Concepcion

1. Saturday is Caturday!

On Saturdays, assistant sound designer Catherine Mardis runs the sound board at the Hudson. Beloved by her cast and crew, Mardis took the time to walk viewers through what it takes to live-mix a multi-layered show like Merrily We Roll Along

Together, Concepcion and Mardis showed off the show's soundboard, the extensive computer setup, and their joint capabilities. Additionally, Concepcion took viewers to the other side of the house to meet Kate Devine, the productions head electrician who is in control of the show's lighting design (the production's lighting designer, Amith Chandrashaker, has moved on to his next project). This part of the takeover was a true masterclass for technical theatre hopefuls, and a lesson to audience members who walk past the sound and light boards in the back of theatres without a second thought.

Stage crew at Merrily We Roll Along Leana Rae Concepcion

2. A Kabuki Curtain

While there are plenty of interesting reveals in the staging of Merrily, one that consistently earns gasps and cheers from the audience is the sudden reveal of a red velvet curtain in Act Two. Concepcion took the time to show viewers how the effect is achieved, highlighting the hard work of the show's crew, as well as showcasing the drop from the wings during the matinee.

Called a Kabuki Curtain, the swift and sudden reveal was a favorite of Merrily's original director, Hal Prince, who drew significant inspiration from the directorial styles of traditional Japanese theatre. Using drapes or curtains that can drop to the floor, the effect can instantly transform time and place for an audience, almost like a jump cut in film editing. If you look closely, the red curtain isn't the only time the effect is used in this revival of Merrily, and Conception made sure to capture the second reveal in one of her videos in the wings.

Lindsay Mendez Leana Rae Concepcion

3. In Comes Company!

Tony winner Lindsay Mendez is the hostess with the mostess before the show begins. With a dressing room just outside the wings of the stage space, her room is where the cast likes to congregate. Before the matinee, Concepcion caught stars Daniel Radcliffe and Jonathan Groff hanging out with Mendez as she prepared to don her wig.

Clad in her 10th anniversary Wicked bathrobe, Mendez showed off her baby bump for the camera as Radcliffe, Gross, and Concepcion laughed. Later, when Mendez exited her dressing room in full costume during the show's overture, the cast serenaded her with "Lucky" by Britney Spears, just for their proclaimed Lady of the Hudson.

The cast of Merrily We Roll Along Leana Rae Concepcion

4. Dance Whenever You Can

Merrily may not have a Tony nomination for Best Choreography, but that doesn't mean they aren't dancing up a storm in the wings! Before the show begins, the cast gathers for a dance party during the overture, complete with a phantom cast member (where's Jim?!).

Then, throughout the show, the cast find moments to make each other smile with inconspicuous boogying in the wings, especially while performing the show's offstage vocals. Whether it is Katie Rose Clarke busting a move before her divorce scene, Vishal Vaidya impressive shimmy, or Daniel Radcliffe's bread catching skills, everyone is clearly have a blast. Ten out of 10 to Jacob Keith Watson for his hand-ography during "Franklin Shepard, Inc"!

Brady Wagner Leana Rae Concepcion

5. Fathers and Sons

Tony nominees Jonathan Groff and Daniel Radcliffe have clearly bonded with the young actors who play Groff's son, Frank Jr., in Merrily. Throughout the takeover, Groff and Radcliffe could be seen numerous times with Brady Wagner and Max Rackenberg, who share the role on Saturdays. May 25 was Wagner's 7th birthday, so celebratory cake and song was shared. But that wasn't all.

During the opening of the second act, Groff, Radcliffe, Wagner, and Rackenberg had fun in the wings pretending to spray paint the stage manager on call, showing off a favorite Squishmallow, and even making up their own alternative lyrics to describe Krystal Joy Brown's Gussie ("She's singing a lie!"). While Groff may be their onstage father, Radcliffe is their father offstage—clips of him dancing with them during scene transitions are charming beyond belief. In an industry that can be hard on child actors, it is heartening to see Groff and Radcliffe step up to the plate to keep them engaged and entertained. 

To learn about the show's music department, front-of-house staff, or to hear the cast answer fan questions  (including why BFA training wasn't the end-all-be-all for Groff, Radcliffe, OR Mendez) check out Playbill's Instagram highlights.

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