As the curtain rises, we see a slideshow of three friends (Franklin Shepard, Charley Kringas, and Mary Flynn) throughout their childhoods and in their adult lives, which tells us the story we are about to see. The final slide depicts a formal invitation for a party at the Bel Air, California, home of Franklin Shepard to celebrate the release of his new movie, Darkness Before Dawn. Thusly, the company enters and philosophically sings about the passage of time and questions how your choices, decisions, and actions determine your life path (“Merrily We Roll Along”).
Suddenly, it is 1976, and big shot movie producer Franklin Shepard is hosting his big party at his house. Frank’s guests discuss what an amazing producer, friend, and guy he is (“That Frank”). Frank jokes around with his old friend, the overweight alcoholic bestselling novelist Mary Flynn, and attempts to keep the star of his picture, Meg Kincaid, with whom he is sleeping, away from him. Frank’s wife, washed-up
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