note: entire contents copyright 2014 by Sheila Barth
Kudos to Moonbox Productions and director Allison Olivia Choat for attempting to perform “Company,” Stephen Sondheim’s complex, award-winning musical, in Calderwood Pavilion’s Roberts Studio Theater, a larger venue than usual for them. I wish they had chosen a less challenging musical, though.
Although “Company” has some outstanding numbers, including its rousing, opening theme song, “Company,” it requires an outstanding cast, a veteran musical director and director, split-second pace and precise spotlighting. Moonbox Production’s cast of 14, accompanied by nine musicians, (deftly directed by Dan Rodriguez), Jeffrey Salzberg’s lighting, Dan Costello’s sound design, and Dale Conklin’s minimalist set create a valiant effort, but the first act of this 2-1/2 hour, two-act show drags. And some of the characters, including Bobby, around whom everyone else satellites, are non-descript flashes. The second act gains some steam and ends with an uplifting ensemble finale, “Being Alive”.
Playwright George Furth, who wrote the book, originally created “Company” as a series of one-act plays, which Director Harold Prince suggested making into a musical, invoking Stephen Sondheim’s genius. When the show premiered on Broadway in 1970, it won six Tony Awards and the New York Drama Critics Award.
“Company” is the story of five married couples and their handsome, sought-after, single friend, Bobby, (David Carney) who’s turning 35. They all want Bobby to settle down and get married, but they secretly admire his free-wheeling lifestyle. Scenes flash between Bobby’s friends surprising him with a birthday party in his apartment, interacting separately with him, and his individual escapades with three women he’s dating, but shuns commitment.
In song “Someone is Waiting,” Bobby declares he’s ready to settle down with one of them: frenetic Marta, who loves the frenzy of New York City (Megan Alicia); airhead flight attendant, April (Katie Clark); or level-headed, homesick Cape Codder Kathy (Lisa Dempsey). Bobby claims he’s ready, but his roving eye is still searching.
Bobby’s friends aren’t any bargain, either. David (Daniel Forest Sullivan) loves his sweet wife, Jenny, (Teresa Winner Blume) but would welcome some of the freedom and fun of the old days; Harry (Matthew Zahnziner) is an agreeable, recovering alcoholic, while wife Sarah (Anne Colpitts) is into self-improvement, through diet and karate; and Peter (Brian Bakofen) and Susan (Catherine Lee Christie) appear lovey-dovey, but get divorced, then live more harmoniously together.
Although Paul is the ideal husband-to-be who’s desperately in love with his bride, Amy, she undergoes some wildly neurotic wedding day jitters, in “Getting Married Today”. Shonna Cirone as Amy and Peter Mill as her benevolent beau, Paul, shine here.
So does Katie Clark as April, in her bedroom romp with Bobby; but their sexy scene is overshadowed by a virginal, lingerie-clad Lisa Dempsey as Kathy, who balletically dances and prances about, in “Tick Tock,” perhaps as a vision in Bobby’s head. The image makes the scene jagged, jarring, and incongruous.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t other outstanding performances, though. For example, veteran actress Leigh Barrett is magnificent as thrice-married, jaded, vodka-fueled older friend, Joanne --- especially with her rousing, show-stopping rendition of hit number, “The Ladies Who Lunch” in the second act. And Rick Sherburne as Joanne’s patient, hopelessly-in-love husband Larry, lends maturity and complacency here.
BOX INFO: Two-act musical, presented by Moonbox Productions, music by Stephen Sondheim, book by George Furth, appearing through March 1, at Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) Nancy and Edward Roberts Studio Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion, 527 Tremont St., South End, Boston. Performances: Thursday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday, 2,8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m. Tickets:$40-$45. Call the Boston Theatre Scene Box Office at 617-933-8600, or visit www.bostontheatrescene.com