“Company”, a musical highlighting the variety of marriages, with music and lyrics by the ever so talented Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth, is a must-see! Theatre Latte Da is mounting the production at the Ordway McKnight Theatre through November 18th. The show was nominated for fourteen Tony Awards and won six including Best Musical in 1970.
Bobby is the central character of the show. He is a single man who is turning 35 in a world surrounded by married couples. The show is a concept musical where Bobby moves between his friends (five couples) and his dates (three women). This was a new view of theater whereas shows used to follow a chronological order. The show is somewhat sporadic and causes the audience to think and absorb all that is happening. The main theme throughout is marriage and the many different views on what it looks like.
The McKnight Theatre is a very well chosen space for the show. It is intimate enough to allow the audience to feel close, but not too small. The set was easily maneuverable. It acted as different characters homes and places in New York City. Although the show was written in the 70’s, director Peter Rothstein chose to update it and make it more present day. Some choices he made were the use of cell phones and keyboards for songs which did not previously have them. It gives a fresh spin to the show which is appreciated by all.
The fourteen person cast was chosen well. Dieter Bierbrauer plays Bobby who is the central character of the show. He weaves all of the couples together and is the hero. This summer I saw Dieter in “Xanadu” at Chanhassen Dinner Theatre. It was great to see him in such a different role. Going from a young roller skating guy to a serious 35 year old man confused about life and marriage was great testament to how he can mold into new roles. His melancholic demeanor was perfect for the role of Bobby. He closes Act 1 with “Marry Me a Little” which was so wonderfully done I think everyone in the audience was holding their breaths. Kim Kivens who plays Jenny was my favorite female of the show. Her acting and facial expressions stood out among the others in the larger numbers. In her smaller scene she played the part well and had a lovely soprano voice. Julie Madden who plays Sarah was phenominal as well. Her karate scene with her husband was very funny. I liked her quirky attitude and the way she embraced the role. With such a small cast I could go on and on about each one of them but you will want to see the show for yourself to get more details!
“Company” has so many standout songs it is hard to pick a favorite. “Sorry-Grateful” sung by the husbands is a beautifully crafted piece about both the good and bad sides of marriage. “Side by Side” is a fun company number. Song, dance, jokes, and acting all make this piece a hit. The last two songs of the show are two of my favorites. Joanne sings “The Ladies Who Lunch” which is a well written number. It gives Joanne, played by Jody Briskey, a chance to express herself. Afterward Bobby asks “what is it all for?” and sings the final song “Being Alive”. The words he sings resonate deep. “Somebody hold me too close. Somebody hurt me too deep. Somebody sit in my chair, and ruin my sleep, and make me aware, of being alive.” This is where Sondheim is brilliant. Everyone can relate to these words and if sung right (which it is) people will be moved.
The show was done so well I could go on for hours. It was by far one of the best shows I have seen in a while and trust me, I see many shows! Do yourself a favor, don’t miss this one. For further information check out:
Theatre Latte Da