note: entire contents copyright 2004 by Beverly Creasey
Director Paul Daigneault, in his program notes on COMPANY, expresses the hope that SpeakEasy’s production of the Stephen Sondheim musical “realizes all the nuances” Mr. Sondheim intended. I’m here to say it sure does. And I’m a hard sell. I’ve seen three other productions of the quirky show, including the Huntington’s big budget version and this is the first time it worked for me.
I still don’t know whether the point of the show is that we need each other’s company to survive—or that we don’t! --- but Sondheim’s disdain for marriage comes through loud and clear. Every number (and COMPANY is a collection of numbers without a real plot) pops in Daigneault and music director Paul S. Katz’ fast moving production…and a couple explode.
Michael Mendiola makes our hero likeable (and I didn’t think it could be done!) and a bit offbeat as the only single in this panorama of married unrest. Julie Jirousek and Jerry Bisantz add plenty of pepper to the stew as the backbiting (and hilariously agile backflipping, in Bisantz’ case) marrieds who love to snipe. Kerry Dowling and Will McGarrahan simply glow as the adoring couple comfortable as an old pair of shoes.
Merle Perkins and Ted Hewlett get laughs as the happily divorcing twosome and Elaine Theodore brings down the house as David Krinitt’s neurotic bride, who’s “Not Getting Married Today.” Nancy Carroll chews up the scenery with the “Ladies Who Lunch” and Sean McGuirk has a lovely moment defusing Carroll’s vitriolic onslaught.
Stephanie Carlson is adorable as the flighty stewardess and Sara Chase electrifies the stage with “Another Hundred People.” Kudos to David Connolly for the sparkling choreography and to Eric Levinson for the chic set.