Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

Company
Musical Theatre Southwest
Review by Rob Spiegel

Also see Dean's review of Sanctuary: A Medieval Murder Mystery and Stephanie's review of The Lady in Question


If you love the lyrics and music of Stephen Sondheim, Company is a delightful showcase the displays the range and magic of a Broadway great. The production by Musical Theatre Southwest (MTS) offers a stripped-down version with little more than chairs for set design. That keeps the focus smartly on the songs. A live musical ensemble with nine players provides a warmly supportive wash for the colorful music and lyrics.

Company is a 1970 musical comedy with a book by George Furth; the music and lyrics are Sondheim's. The story was created as short humorous vignettes about the travails of marriage. The concept works well as a cycle of songs about love and its failings.

At the center of the story is Robert/Bobby, played here by Colin Burdge, who also led the cast of Rock of Ages last year at MTS. While he was fine in Rock of Ages, that spectacle left little room for a nuanced performance either in acting or singing. As the center of Company Burdge excels in full Ryan Gosling style charm.

Robert is hitting his 35th birthday, and friends—all married couples—are distressed by his ongoing bachelorhood. Robert is seeing two or three women, but none has the potential to be a long-term partner. Though Robert is not unhappy with his life, he is feeling the pressure to join the married club. Then we get to see the inside of the five marriages among his friends. Each one is a disaster in a different way. In one, the husband is possibly gay, in an older couple, the unfaithful duo despise each other. None of the marriages provides an attractive alternative to Robert's single life. Robert watches these marital disasters with a bemused shoulder shrug. He just doesn't care.

The content is dated. What must have seemed edgy in 1970 now seems quaint. While the set-up doesn't promise much allure on the surface, it comes through as quite entertaining, even prompting a handful of belly laughs, not just an excuse for Sondheim's wonderful songs.

The ensemble cast alongside Burdge are a strong selection of many MTS regulars. They work well as a group, offering some exceptional individual moments. Bradley Fuller is terrific as Peter, and the always-on Janine O'Neill Loffelmacher brings her comedic best to the role of Amy.

Burdge carries the show with a wry and bemused smile. He brings across Robert's New York sophistication with easy confidence. It's quite a workout, since Burdge is nearly always on stage, yet he doesn't break a sweat. Excellent performance.

Altogether, Company is a very satisfying show that well spotlights Sondheim's songs. They're delivered here with a bright live orchestra led by musical director Cheryl Sharps. Director Brandon McDaniel keeps the action moving at a crisp snap, avoiding the lulls that can haunt productions without strong a narrative.

Company, directed by Brandon McDaniel for Musical Theatre Southwest, will show in the MTS Black Box at 6320 Domingo Rd NE through March 5, 2017. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm, and Sunday at 2:00 pm. General admission is $22. For seniors, students and ATC members, admission is $20. For reservations, call 505-265-9119 or purchase online at musicantheatresw.com

Image courtesy of Musical Theatre Southwest


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