Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Company"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2005 by Tony Annicone

"Company"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Company Theatre's first musical of the 2005 season is Stephen Sondheim's "Company". The show follows a bachelor, Robert on his 35th birthday, his 10 married friends and three girlfriends in New York City. Robert is afraid of not being married yet is hesitant due to the imperfections in the marriages of his friends. By the end of the show, he realizes he wants someone to need him to help him to survive being alive. Directors Zoe Bradford and Jordie Saucerman cast the best 14 people in these roles and music director Michael Joseph takes these 14 people and teaches them this difficult and intricate score, turning this show into a splendid evening of entertainment.

Zoe and Jordie capture the essence of New York with their backdrop of Manhattan and their multilevel set. Their blocking and placement of the couples in their scenes and the three girlfriends is right on the money. They give each one their moment to shine. Michael not only taught the score to the cast but conducts a topnotch orchestra and keeps the balance between the two of them all night long. The harmonic blend of voices is exquisite and the lyrics are always crystal clear in this tongue twisting score. Michael always does an excellent job and this show is no exception. Sally Ashton Forrest choreographs the many dance numbers wonderfully with the "Side by Side"/ What Would We Do Without You" segment being a show stopper.

John King is fabulous as Bobby. This man is a triple threat performer who can sing, dance and act with ease. John is a human dynamo, moving from one vignette to the other with ease. He captures the inner turmoil of the character, displaying the comic and tragic moments flawlessly. The funniest scene in the show is the bedroom scene where John clad in his underpants, simulates copulating with the stewardess while the chorus sings around them. (How John kept the power pack for his mike on is a mystery to me.) John's fantastic tenor voice soars off the charts in his powerful closing solo, "Being Alive". The pathos of this number moves the audience to tears with Bobby's realization of needing someone to call his own. Bravo on a job well done.

The five married couples have their own funny moments in the show. The group numbers "Company" and "Side by Side" shine with their singing and dancing. Steve Shannon as Harry and Jackie Duffy as Sarah make the constantly arguing and karate practicing couple into a comic romp. She is constantly on a diet while sneaking bites of brownies and he is an alcoholic who is always trying to serve Bobby drinks while taking swigs while doing so. Steve shows off his wonderful voice in the trio number called "Sorry-Grateful", one of Sondheim's reflections on married life.Jeff Mahoney as Peter and Ann McCoy as Susan are the couple who surprises Bobby by getting divorced. A gay motive for Peter is alluded to in the second act but is never fully explored since the show was written in 1970 and that was a taboo subject back then. Both Jeff and Ann do a great job with this underwritten couple by their facial expressions and comic line delivery. Joseph Rucker Jr. as David and Paula Markowicz as Jenny play the dope smoking couple. This is an hilarious scene with Paula's character denying being high but subsequently she swears up a storm and keeps falling off her beanbag chair, leading to many laughs. David put a stop to smoking anymore dope and Joseph shows off his strong baritone in many solo segments of group songs while Paula shows off her gorgeous soprano voice in "Bless this Bride" solo. They handle their roles with ease.

The fourth couple, Paul and Amy are played by Michael Foley and Aimee Doherty. This couple almost didn't get married at all due to Amy's pre-wedding jitters. She calls off the wedding to Paul by telling him she doesn't love him but fortunately she rethinks things out and they get married at last. Aimee has a difficult patter song, "I'm Not Getting Married". She does an excellent job with the tongue twisting lyrics and makes every word understandable. Her manic behavior while clad in a wedding dress and veil and while wearing yellow gloves to scrub the pots and pans is a hoot. Michael tries to be patient with her wacky behavior and he shows off his voice in his solo moments of this number. The final couple is Sarah deLima as Joanne and Richard Jensen as Larry. This couple has an inactive marriage, she is a bitchy, demanding wife who is on husband # 3 and looking to make it with any man around including Bobby. Sarah sings her bitter solo number, "Ladies Who Lunch" wonderfully. (This early Sondheim song sounds a bit like "I'm Still Here" from "Follies".) Richard does a good job as this verbally abused husband who gives into his wife's every whim.

The last three performers who get to shine in this show are Bobby's three girlfriends. Jen Ellis as Marta, Christine Maus as April and Kathy Keefe as Kathy sing an Andrews Sisters type of song about their relationship with Bobby called, "You Could Drive a Person Crazy". Jen is the hippie type girlfriend with a sassy mouth and a wacky philosophical look at the world. She belts out her solo "Another Hundred People" about her view of NYC. Jen also gets to tell Bobby how to loosen up when she describes how to figure people by looking at their ass to see whether they are uptight asses or not. Christine plays a dippy stewardess and sings a duet with John called "Barcelona" about leaving him after their night of hot passionate sex. He wants her to leave but she thinks he wants her to stay for more sex. Very funny scene with a mistaken story of a one winged butterfly. Kathy plays the girl Bobby let get away from him that he should have married. She handles the irony of this scene beautifully. So for an evening of multitalented performers in one of Sondheim's earliest shows, be sure to catch "Company" at Company before it's too late.

"Company" (1 - 24 April)
COMPANY THEATRE
30 Accord Park Drive, NORWELL MA
1 (781) 871-2787

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