Lights of Broadway: Company




Company

Synopsis: In a series of vignettes, New York single Bobbie learns about the perils and pleasures of love, marriage, dating and divorce from her married friends.


Review:

The biggest winner at the Tony’s this year was Stephen Sondheim’s “Company.” Taking home 5 of the awards this year, notably, Patti Lupone obtaining her 3rd Tony award, this recent adaptation and West End transfer showcased a few of the roles gender-swapped along with the work revamped to modernize the work. Company is a story about perpetually single Bobbie (portrayed by Katrina Lenk) on the night of her 35th birthday. The show opens with Bobbie coming home with her birthday balloon and a bottle of Maker’s Mark to celebrate her birthday alone, only to receive a voicemail from her friend Jamie (portrayed by Tony Award-winning Matt Doyle) accidentally spilling the beans on the surprise party that Bobbie’s friends have orchestrated for her. What takes place throughout a two and a half-hour period is Bobbie reliving poignant moments throughout her adult life interacting with both her married friends and lovers to help Bobbie begin to understand the difference between somebody, not somebody. Through the use of a constantly moving set, the entire show takes place inside Bobbie’s mind as she moves from room to room in her quest to find this answer.


Katrina Lenk as the gender-swapped lead, Bobbie, the commitment-fearing, serial dater provided a well-executed performance that left the viewer emotionally invested in her mental journey, culminating in the final number of the show “Being Alive” which left the audience awestruck at the journey we all collectively went on. Company is at its core however an ensemble show. Notable ensemble members: are Patti Lupone in her Tony-winning performance of Joanne, Bobbie’s wealthy older friend who delivered the 11 o’clock number “Ladies Who Lunch,” which will go down as one of this reviewer top 10 moments on stage, Matt Doyle in his Tony-winning performance of Jamie, one of the gender-swapped roles that created a new, queer couple for the show to play off of, and Bobby Conte as PJ, a lover of Bobbie’s who is the quintessential “problematic New Yorker” love interest.


As this version of the Company featured many gender-swapped roles, this brought on George Furth and Stephen Sondheim to not only adapt the 1970s material, but also rework the music for completely different voice parts. The adaptation/updating by these two succeeds in revamping the story for the modern audience and lending itself to a new story of its titular character as a female-identified individual as opposed to a male-identified one. Dated lines like “I’ll call you in the morning or my service will explain” are being swapped for more relatable lines like “And if I don’t text you back then I’ll say you went insane.” The reworking helped to clean up the show as well, allowing for the narrative to come through to the audience without the confusion that would sometimes occur from the narrative.


At the heart of this adaptation is the excellent scenic design by Bunny Christie. A series of modular pieces that at times felt like a moving obstacle course for Bobbie to navigate lent itself to the story being told. Each time Bobbie and the audience would become comfortable in a space with the couple, the room would shift and Bobbie would be shepherded into a new room like jumping between train cars, or breaking out of the train only for a new modular room to pop up out of the floor to stick her in the middle. The set itself allowed for the piece to showcase the movement is needed for the character at its center.


This production and adaptation of Company are the last productions Stephen Sondheim ever worked on before his tragic passing. Sadly, even with being the most Tony Awarded show of the 2021-2022 season, Company has announced its closing date of July 31, 2022, and will end having performed 32 preview performances and 300 regular performances. Overall, this show was a breathtaking showcase of some of the best theatre has to offer in terms of storytelling and concept with relatable characters lending the audience the opportunity to insert themselves into the story happening in front of them.


This adaptation and performance of Company is a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars.


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