Reviewed by Tony Annicone
Rhode Island College Theatre closes out its season with Stephen Sondheim's "Company". The show follows Robert,(a bachelor) on his 35th birthday, his 10 married friends and three girlfriends in New York City in the late 1960's. Robert is afraid of not being married yet is hesitant due to the imperfections in the marriages of his friends. By shows end he realizes he wants someone to need him to help him survive being alive. 14 talented college students make this difficult musical soar into a splendid evening of top notch entertainment.
Director/choreographer Bill Wilson captures the mood of the 60's with his NY skyline multilevel set containing five playing areas for the five couples, the costuming and the dances of that era. He has these kids dancing and singing in group numbers perfectly. Bill creates many stage pictures of Bobby and the couples making the show memorable. His blocking and casting of all the roles is first rate bringing the level of the performances to new heights. Tim Robertson is the music director and makes the Sondheim score flow with ease from the orchestra and the singers, too. Bravo to Bill, Tim and everyone who worked on and made "Company", a success.
Dominique Doiron plays the role of Bobby. He is a human dynamo on the stage. Dominique captures the frenzied behavior of the character in his acting and singing. His fantastic tenor voice is utilized in all his solos but stands out in "Being Alive". The pathos of this number brings the audience to tears when Dominique chokes his voice up near the end of the song. It is when Bobby finally realizes he needs someone to call his own. Dominique plays all his scenes with the whole cast wonderfully making this a must see show.
The five married couples have their own funny moments in the show.The group numbers "Company" and "Side by Side" are sung and danced very well by this young cast. Joe Iozzi as Harry and Joanna Scoggins as Sarah make the karate practicing and screaming couple into a comic romp. She is constantly on a diet and he is an alcoholic who is always serving Bobby drinks. Joe and Joanna do super work in their roles bringing much laughter to the crucial opening scenes of the show. Joe shows off his baritone voice in the trio number, "Sorry-Grateful" one of Sondheim's reflections on married life.
Brad Verdi as Peter and Ann-Frances Hamill as Susan play the couple who surprises Bobby by getting divorced. The character of Peter makes a pass at Bobby later in the second act showing why he got divorced. Brad and Ann-Frances play this underwritten couple very well and make the most of their stage time using good facial expressions. Ann has a fabulous operatic soprano voice which she displays in her solo "Bless this Bride". Ethan Andrews as David and Heather Beaudry as Jenny play the couple who smokes dope with Bobby. They both make these two high people very funny. Heather swears up a storm as the character. Ethan becomes serious with Bobby and Jenny for using dope making the transition smoothly.
Justin Jutras as Paul and Nicole Gemma as Amy play the couple who bearly get married at all. She is kind of crazy and gets prewedding jitters and calls off the wedding by telling Paul she doesn't love him. Paul breaks down and leaves but she changes her mind after Bobby proposes to her. Nicole has a difficult patter type number "I'm Not Getting Married". She pulls off this fast paced song with ease and makes every word understandable. Justin uses his powerful voice in his section of the song. He also makes Paul a romantic upbeat guy until she breaks his heart. Justin uses sad facial and vocal expressions to make this a touching moment in this musical. The last couple is Sarah Potenza as Joanne and Michael Roderick as Larry. This couple has an inactive marriage, she is on husband # 3. Sarah, a Laine Kazan lookalike on stage delivers the powerful "Ladies Who Lunch" song about rich ladies who want it all.(This earlier song sounds like "I'm Still Here from "Follies) She makes a pass at Bobby soon after the song. Sarah makes Joanne a strong woman who is always in charge. Michael does a good job playing the huaband who gives into his wife's every whim. All five couples do dynamite work in their roles and have wonderful futures in the theater.
Three other performers who get to shine in this show are Bobby's three girlfriends. Andrea Twiss as Marta, Amanda Hartley as April and Kelley Schimmel as Kathy sing an Andrews Sisters type song about their relationship with Bobby, "You Could Drive a Person Crazy". It is a hidden comic gem in this semi-serious look at couples. Andrea, who is dressed as a gypsy (think Madame Arcati from "Blithe Spirit") has a wonderful solo about the people of New York called "Another Hundred People" that is a reflection of their relationship. She belts it out making it sound like"Don't Rain On My Parade". Amanda plays a stewardess and sings a duet with Dominique called "Barcelona" about leaving him after their night of sexual passion. He wants her to leave but she thinks he wants her to stay for more sex. Funny scene with a mistaken story about a butterfly. Kelley plays a girl Bobby wants to marry but lets get away from him. She handles the irony of the scene beautifully. So for an outstanding musical hurry to "Company" at RIC, you won't be disappointed.