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A CurtainUp Review
Company seems quaint today. George Furth’s book and Stephen Sondheim’s music and brilliant lyrics on such themes as loneliness, isolation, sex, passion and compassion are of course universal and timeless themes but the environment in which they exist has changed, in some ways drastically. That is certainly true of Company, set in 1970, during the sexual revolution.
There’s not much story other than five married couples each with different styles of living and loving try to convince their 35-year old friend Bobby that he too should get married. But Bobby, witnessing his friends’ tensions and neuroses, is ambivalent.
Often described as commitment-phobic, Bobby is something of an anachronism. In 2013, being single at 35 is not the anomaly it once was. Nor is bisexuality. There are many Bobbys out there now as are a wider array of combinations of couples and families that makes Company a period piece.
Matthew Scott, a very fine actor, glorious singer and good dancer is perfectly cast as Bobby. He has charisma, charm, and more than enough sex appeal to not just carry the show but take it to a soul-wrenching level. What Scott brings to such numbers as “Something to Live For” and particularly “Being Alive” is enormous passion and sensitivity. His moan at the end of “Barcelona” is equal parts irony and humor. I can say unequivocably that his is the best Bobby I have ever seen and I’ve seen a lot of Bobbies.
The solo numbers sung by Madeline Botteri as the dumb and boring airline stewardess, April, and Erin Weaver as the neurotic bride, Amy, are also high points of this production. Tray Lynn Olivera as Sarah is very funny when giving her husband a lesson or two in karate.
Director Eric Schaeffer has drawn out of them vocally perfect renditions of “Barcelona” and “Getting Married Today” respectively with just the right touch of self-deprecation. Daniel Conway’s spare platform and stairway set lit with neon lines by Chris Lee is timeless. Rocco DiSanti’s rear screen projections showing not just photos of the couples but street scenes of New York add context while Frank Labovitz’s grey costumes evoke a kind of fashion neutrality of palette and era.
Along with the frug and the pony, dances of the 70’s are ably incorporated into Matthew Gardiner’s choreography. The musicians, under the very able direction of Jon Kalbfleisch, are as always at Signature a pleasure to listen to.
What makes this production uneven are the supporting players. Sherri L. Edelen’s shrill drunk, Joanne, is a tiresome cliché that thankfully she tones down enough to give a very good rendition of “The Ladies Who Lunch.” Bobby Smith is a very empathetic Peter. And even though some of the other male performers are weak, if you are willing to take the good (and what is good here is very good) with the bad, the production is well-worth seeing.