The Players Theatre opens the door to Company.
By Kay Kipling
Stephen Sondheim fans (of which I am one) often have a special fondness for Company, his 1970 musical about a 35-year-old, commitment-averse bachelor named Bobby with a lot of married friends. It’s not his deepest show, and the book by George Furth has its weaknesses. But Company has some outstanding songs, some strong moments, and a certain theatrical panache as it follows Bobby from couple to couple while he struggles to find what he wants from his life.
In the current Players Theatre production, Company is firmly rooted in the 1970s milieu it was born in; the costumes, set and hairpieces all take those of us who were alive then back to that time, most likely with a little shudder. (It was not our most attractive era.) With its famous nonlinear structure, Company starts out at a birthday party for Bobby attended by all the couples who claim him and then switches back and forth between various scenes where Bobby interacts with them as the perennial third man (a role defined by the Act II song Side by Side by Side), interspersed with brief vignettes of Bobby with three of the young women he’s been dating.
Each couple has their problems, of course. Sarah and Harry (Ellie Pattison and Leslie Dawley) snipe at each other while trying to stop overeating and overdrinking, respectively; Susan and Peter (Cara Herman and David Walker) seem so happy but are actually getting divorced; Joanne (Sandra Musicante) is a hard-drinking broad on her third husband, Larry (David Coyle); and Amy and Paul (Stephanie Costello and David Abolafia) may not even get to the altar due to Amy’s frantic panic on their wedding day. (Costello is very funny on the rapid-fire Getting Married Today.) Jenny and David (Bonnie Schiavone and Richard Russell) may have the best relationship, but is that because they’ve just settled for each other?
As often happens in community theater, not everyone onstage is best suited, age wise or by physical type, to the roles they play. But for the most part they provide a strong enough singing/acting ensemble to get Sondheim’s numbers and message across. As Bobby, the center of all the attention, Jason Kimble has the right bemused air of observation in a role that doesn’t really give him all that much to do until the climax of the show, the still powerful Being Alive, where he finally admits and accepts his need to care for someone.
Director/choreographer Jared Walker moves his cast around well; Act II’s What Would We Do Without You, featuring the ensemble equipped with hats and canes as they salute their Bobby, is fun and lively. Deniz Hakim scores as the energetic Marta on the big song Another Hundred People, and Musicante gives it her all on the famous, bitter Ladies Who Lunch number. For Company lovers, this is certainly not the best cast production they’ll ever see. But it’s what we have for right now, and it still entertains.
Company continues through Oct. 5; call 365-2494 or go to theplayers.org.