Last night I was given a sneak peek at The Historic Holly Theatre’s production of Company. In my humble opinion, this show is a must-see for a date night, a group of friends, or even if you’re like me and don’t mind going to the theater solo.
Once and a while a musical comes along that explores the intricacies of “adulting”. Company is one of those musicals. This is a musical comedy written by the legendary Stephen Sondheim (Think of Into the Woods, West Side Story, Gypsy, Sweeney Todd….too many to name here). The original 1970 production was nominated for a record setting fourteen Tony Awards and won 6. The show is a compilation of 11 one act plays written by George Furth. This is the story of Robert, a 35 year-old bachelor living in New York…and all his married friends…and 3 of his girlfriends. The performance is a montage of scenes, in no particular order, set around the anchor scene of Robert’s 35th birthday party.
This show was among one of the first musicals to explore adult themes and relationships, and still holds relevance today. Sondheim himself said, “Broadway theater has been for many years supported by upper-middle-class people with upper-middle-class problems. These people really want to escape that world when they go to the theatre, and then here we are with Company talking about how we’re going to bring it right back in their faces.” Furth and Sondheim revised the libretto in the early 1990s. During this time they cut and altered dialogue that was dated and rewrote the end to act one. The show was revived on Broadway in 2006 and received the Tony in 2007 for Best Revival of a Musical, and was also taped for PBS Great Performances.
Entering the Holly, the scene has been set with a living room surrounded by the stunning New York skyline. This historic theater is warm and inviting with its brick interior and intimate feel, which helps the audience feel at home in the various settings. While the same couch, chairs, and coffee table are used throughout, several small props help us believe that each scene is set at the apartments of various characters.
Director Brooke Evans (previous credits include Shrek at the Holly, Oklahoma at Johnson High School) has assembled a stellar cast. The vocals beautifully tell this story, the comedic timing of the actors had me laughing out loud, and each couple was believable in color coordinated clothing (we all know married people start dressing alike after a few years).
Robert, played by Alex Fowler, puts up with his friend’s nagging about when he’ll settle down, but it’s actually his view of their relationships prominently on display. Robert finds that he truly does want marriage, but can’t seem to find the right girl. He sings “Someone is Waiting” and explains that he’d like a woman with all the virtues each of his friends’ wives possess.
It was difficult to decide which performances were “Keynote-worthy” in this show, as this is truly a strong ensemble. Here are my picks: Alex Fowler as Robert–with a voice like butter; Glenda Gray as Sarah–a hypercritical wife and avid learner of karate that tends to overeat; John Certusi as Harry–a recovering alcoholic who believes the advantages of marriage outweigh the disadvantages; Nick Denmore as David–relaxed and always in control believing a man should be married and sacrific freedom; Carla Seldon as Amy–a frantic neurotic engaged to be married, yet terrified of marriage; Dawn Phipps as Joanne–too old to be part of the young crowd, and at the same time, doesn’t fit in with the older crowd. She puts on a brassy front which melts when she’s alone with her husband; Michael Arens as Larry–Stoic and centered, he indulges his wife’s behavior yet knows when to put his foot down; and Ali Rose Harton as Marta–one of Robert’s girlfriends who is intensely edgy and loves the adventure and excitement of the city. Keynote-worthy musical numbers were also a difficult pick, but include “Company”–ensemble; “Someone is Waiting”–Robert; “You Could Drive a Person Crazy”–Marta, Kathy and April; “Another Hundred People”–Marta; “Getting Married Today”–Amy; “Marry me a Little”–Robert; “Side by Side”–ensemble; and “Ladies who Lunch”–Joanne.
Company opens this Friday, May 4th and runs through May 20th. Show dates are May 4-6, 11-13th and 18-20th. Tickets are $22.00 for adults, $14.00 for student and are available at http://www.hollytheater.com/company.html or can be purchased at The Historic Holly Theatre (Dahlonega) box office.
–Jody Key: Speakeysie contributor and editor