Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Company"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2007 by Tony Annicone

"Company"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The final show of Providence College's season is Stephen Sondheim's "Company". The show is set in New York City in 1977 and tells the story of Robert, 35 years old with charm, good looks and humor. It takes place on his 35th birthday where the audience meets his 10 married friends and three of his girlfriends. He is the only one in his group of friends without a spouse, and his peers think that needs to be corrected. Robert is afraid of not being married but is hesitant due to the imperfections in the marriages of his friends. "Company" won six Tony Awards when it first opened on Broadway. Providence College alumnus Chris J. Silva directs and choreographs his 14 member cast perfectly while music director David Harper taught them the difficult Sondheim songs and also conducts the orchestra, providing a splendid performance which is rewarded by a standing ovation at the close of the show. Bravo.

The essence of New York is captured by scenic designer Mike Micucci's multilevel set with the New York City skyline. Each of the five couples gets their own playing areas while the three girlfriends move in and out of the scenes with ease. The 1970's costumes in all their gaudy, ugliness are by David Costa Cabral and perfectly fit the time period. The blocking and choreography by Chris includes many different dance styles including tap dancing, soft shoe with top hat and cane and the Charleston. David Harper obtains the harmonic blend of performers and orchestra with the "Side by Side/What Would We Do Without You" segment being a show stopper with the combination of song and dance prowess.

College senior Shane Quinn plays the huge role of Robert and proves he is a triple threat performer who can sing, dance and act with ease. Shane is a human dynamo, moving from one vignette to the other with ease. He captures the inner turmoil of the character and one of his funniest moments takes place in the bedroom scene while Bobby tries to copulate with the stewardess and all his friends show up to comment on it. Shane's powerful singing voice soars off the charts in "Someone is Waiting" which he sings to the wives in Act 1 especially effective is his falsetto at the end of the number. The bedroom number duet is the comic "Barcelona" and the fabulous pathos inducing "Being Alive" moves the audience to tears with Shane's powerful rendition of it when Bobby final realization of needing someone to call his own. Shane is going to graduate school next year in either Boston or New York so keep an eye out for him in the future. Bravo on a job well done.

The five married couples have many funny moments. The group numbers "Company" and "Side by Side" shine with their singing and dancing. Kevin MacLean as Harry and Marie Putko as Sarah make the constantly arguing and karate practicing couple into a comic romp. She is always on a diet while sneaking bites of brownies and he is an alcoholic who is constantly trying to serve Bobby drinks while sneaking swigs of his drink while doing so. Kevin shows off his voice in the trio number called "Sorry-Grateful", one of Sondheim's reflections on married life. Tom Leschke as Peter and Hannah Gunnell as Susan are the couple who surprises Bobby by getting divorced. A gay motive for the divorce is alluded to in the second for Peter but is passed off as a joke since the show was written in 1970 and that was a taboo subject back then. Both Tom and Hannah make the most of this underwritten couple with their wonderful facial expression and comic line delivery as well as her funny Southern accent. The third couple of David played by John Michael Mackiewicz and Jenny played by Nancy Anastadis are the dope smoking couple. This scene is hilarious with Nancy's character swearing up a storm and denying she is high. John Michael shows off his voice in many solo segments of the group numbers including "Sorry-Grateful" while Nancy shows off her strong soprano voice in "Bless the Bride" solo. They both handle their roles with ease.

The fourth couple, Paul and Amy are played by Nick Hebert and Alexandra Kiki Tarkhan. This couple almost didn't get married because of her 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. Alexandra clad in a wedding dress, does an excellent job with the tongue twisting lyrics of the patter song, "Getting Married Today". Nick remains very patient with her wacky behavior and shows off his strong voice in his solo moments of this number. The final couple is Jill Naymie as Joanne and Kevin Black 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. Jill brings down the house with her bitter solo number "The Ladies Who Lunch" which sounds like Sondheim's "I'm Still Here" from "Follies". Kevin plays the long suffering husband who puts up with his wife's awful antics and gives into her every whim. The last performers who get to shine in this show are Bobby's three girlfriends. Danielle Kramer as Marta, Becky Ryan as April and Colleen Burns as Kathy sing an Andrews Sisters type of song about their relationship with Bobby called "You Could Drive a Person Crazy". Danielle is the hippie girlfriend with a wacky philosophical look at the world. She belts out her solo "Another Hundred People" about her view of NYC. Danielle also gets to tell Bobby how to loosen up when she describes how to figure people out by looking at their ass to see whether they are uptight asses or not. Becky is a hoot as the dippy stewardess who sings a duet with Shane called "Barcelona" while clad in panties and a bra, after a night of hot passionate sex. He wants her to leave but she decides to stay because she thinks he is referring to her sad story of letting the butterfly fly away. Colleen plays the girl that Bobby let get away from him that he should have married. She handles the irony of this scene beautifully. So for a trip back to the 1970's to catch one of Sondheim's earliest shows, be sure to catch "Company" at Providence College. Tell them Tony sent you.

"Company" (30 March - 15 April)
PROVIDENCE COLLEGE THEATRE
Angells Blackfriar Theatre, 549 River Avenue, PROVIDENCE RI
1 ( 401) 865-2218

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