Company’s 4th Broadway Revival Has Life
In the wake of Stephen Sondheim’s recent passing, his legacy becomes more prevalent than ever. So does the newest adaption of one of his most-groundbreaking shows Company (1970) hold up? Mostly. This was my first Broadway show I got to see in previews, and it was an absolutely New York experience. With two pauses in the first act for technical issues, the cast still maintained so much energy and excitement. We even got ten minutes of Fitzgerald and Greg Hildreth vamping with stories of Sondheim and party tricks.
Company is the story of a 35-year-old bachelor Bobbie (played by Katrina Lenk, gender-bent from the original Bobby) who considers the pros and cons of marriage through the eyes of her couple friends. The energy in the first scene was electric, matched perfectly by the amazing moving set and the props. Major props to Scenic Designer Bunny Christie and her team for the genius idea of moving cubes with LED lights and completely white/gray furniture, as it perfectly encapsulates how modern New York is supposed to backdrop vibrant characters.
Speaking of vibrant characters, Company has a lot of strong actors who make the most of their time in the spotlight. Sarah (Jennifer Simard) is a master of physical comedy with vibrant energy and incredible charm. Similarly, David (Christopher Fitzgerald) completely steals the show as a stay-at-home dad vaping for the first time. The whole first act could have been the three of them smoking and I would have been satisfied. Then again, we would have missed out on the best version of “Not Getting Married,” which was sung perfectly by a frantic Matt Doyle. I cannot in good conscience spoil the delightful staging of this song, so I beg you if you want the laugh of a lifetime, buy your ticket just for that.
The main struggle the show faces is how it handles its main character. While Bobby as a woman makes sense as a fun, modern retelling, there were some points in the script that cause confusion and muddle the point of the original show. My main gripe is with the handling of Joanne’s (played by Patti Lapone’s delightfully talented understudy Anisha Nagarajan) proposition in the club (a decision Sondheim himself expressed doubt over). I’m not sure of the logistics of the new deal nor about Bobbie’s new revelation line, which is supposed to catapult her into “Being Alive.” The change from “But who will I take care of” to “But who’s going to take care of me” may seem minor, but it changes the whole tone of the finale song (and perhaps not for the better).
Overall, Company is a delight for any Sondheim fans and major theatre nerds. Sondheim said that this show is meant to throw reality back in the faces of theatergoers trying to escape it. And this version definitely captures a 2021 reality of a single woman in her thirties with a classic score and vibrancy.