Sondheim’s revamped musical gives a tastefully new insight to love and life.
Straight from Broadway, this refreshingly humorous musical beats Bridget Jones to the stage as one of the most popular ‘mid-life crisis’ spectacles to date.
The founder of the musical, the Stephen Sondheim musical Company, first premiered the show in 1970 at which time the plot revolved around a male protagonist playing a 35-year-old hopeless singleton. Flash forward to 2019, and the show now features a female protagonist set on her quest for marriage, kids and everything else a woman should have by the age of 35 (according to society). Equally, other plot amendments such as the introduction of same-sex couples have also been implemented by the show’s director; making for a plot much more in keeping with 21st century values.
The show opens with Bobby (Rosalie Craig): an introvert, hopeless romantic, and professional third-wheel. She’s sitting at her kitchen table on her 35th birthday listening to voice mails from her many (married) friends and swigging from a bottle of Jack Daniels. Instantaneously, company arrives and the first of the show’s chorus numbers begins: ‘Company’, during which audience members get their first glimpse of the production’s innovative set design by Bunny Christie. The visual make-up consists of large illuminated cubes whilst are re-arranged and added to throughout the production. The design particularly flourishes in the subsequent scenes when Bobby visits each of her friends’ apartments; moving across Christie’s design and amplifying the illusion of the constructions as she goes.
Another of the show’s standout attributes are Stephen Sondheim and Joel Fram’s (musical supervisor and conductor), musical arrangements. Notably, it is the chorus numbers’ immaculate harmonies which dictate the virtuosity of the entire performance. Sondheim’s ‘The Little Things You Do Together’ led by Joanna (Patti LuPone), Bobby’s maternal figure, is the perfect example. Her vocals are sharp and distinguished; adding to the humorous tone of the track which gives a hilariously sarcastic insight into ‘the perfect relationship’.
Credit must also be given to Mel Giedroyc (playing Sarah) for her outstanding comedic performance. Memorably, Sarah and Harry give an absurd lesson in self- defence during the first of Bobby’s third-wheel endeavours. Similarly, assisting Bobby in her search for love are couples Peter and Susan, David and Jenny, and Jamie and Paul who each provide their own unique insights into the difficulties of married life. Primarily, showstopper ‘Getting married today’ is perfectly executed by Jamie (Jonathan Bailey) who gets cold feet at his wedding breakfast and questions his desire to marry devoted lover, Paul.
In Act 2 the audience continue their tour of Bobby’s failed love affairs, including all the gruesome details. Marianne Elliott (Director) excels on humour grounds here: making use of the cast in one cosy scene when Bobby and new love interest, Andy (Richard Fleeshman), enjoy an intimate moment in the bedroom; joined, of course, by company.
For viewers hoping for an ending void of cliché, Sondheim’s satisfies. And Rosalie’s performance of “Being Alive” is the ultimate icing on the cake. Despite its comedic core, ‘Company’ brings to our attention much more than the eye immediately meets. Using Bobby’s story to guide his message, Sondheim ultimately raises a question of ‘What If’. What if there was more to life than falling in love and following the crowd…. Intrigued? I recommend that this is the show you see.
All images copyright of Company Musical.