Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Directed by Zak Klobucher
Musical Direction by Ron Duvernay
At Winthrop House JCR Through Saturday
FEELING A LITTLE down? Is your lunch from the Union just sitting there? The pressures of midterms got you blue? Well what you need is some good rest and some good company, and that's just what you get at Winthrop these days. The Winthrop House Drama Society is now presenting Company: A Musical Comedy.
Set in modern-day New York City, the show centers around Robert (Ted Stimpson), a middle-aged man, unmarried but with many married friends. He goes from couple to couple getting glimpses of married life and a lot of advice on the pleasures or, just as often, the imperfections of marriage. He is desperate to understand his friends' affinity for marriage, and his efforts are made even more difficult because these couplings run the gamut, from the constantly battling spouses to the loving couple who get a divorce in order to save their relationship.
Robert also keeps busy trying to manage three girlfriends. The scenes aren't very well linked together and some of the characters are under-developed, but if you want a night of great singing and some funny scenes, you will not have traveled in vain.
For all the true theater enthusiasts out there here is yet another chance to enjoy the wonderful work of Stephen Sondheim, one of our greatest composers. Sondheim's lively music is technically challenging for both the orchestra and the performers, but the Winthrop crew pulls it off wonderfully.
The show's vocals are Company's real strength. Not only do we get seasoned singers from the ranks of the Krokodiloes and the Opportunes, but director Klobucher has found some great new talent in Lisa Balabanian (Marta), and Beth Heller (Amy).
Several dramatic performances stand out. Sarah Beatty, as a slightly confused and submissive wife, discovers the effects of marijuana, and as you might guess, forgets all the lessons of the proper housewife until her husband-knows-best mate (David Schiffman) decides that enough is enough. This scene puts you in the aisle with laughter; the two actors are so convincingly stoned that it makes you wonder just how potent this pot really is.
Joanne (Lisa Tornell) and Larry (Steve Lyne), the jet set couple with multiple marriages show that money isn't everything and, as Joanne makes quite clear, marriage isn't sacred. Tornell's portrayal is sharp and consistent throughout; she perfectly fills out the stereotype of the callous NYC socialite. Filling out the duo, Lyne makes the most of a sketchy character with clever, impromptu gestures.
Simpson, the lead character, sometimes becomes overshadowed by the strong personalities of the couples, but he has got some great vocal cords to compensate for his dull Average-man character. And his steamy scene with April (Lesley Blumenthal), one of his girlfriends, provides some apprehensive and funny moments for us all.
The cast of Company provides great entertainment in spite of the story's shortcomings. One goes to a musical comedy for music and comedy, and both are in evidence. This is a show well worth the ticket, and if I'm wrong then the size and laughter of the audience puts me in very good company.