Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Revolutionary in its time, Company fragments time into individual scenes and follows a through-line of ideas rather than plot. (The 1970s works by Sondheim and his primary collaborator, producer-director Harold Prince, became known as "concept musicals.") In this case, the pivotal figure is Robert (Matthew Scott), comfortably unmarried at 35, and the five married couples who consider him their best friend.
In the musical's original time period (think of Mad Men, for example), couples were expected to marry young and a person who remained unmarried at 35 was an anomaly. People marry later these days, but the idea of a person shying away from commitment is as relevant as ever.
Interestingly, Schaeffer has chosen a monochrome look for the production: Daniel Conway's set is all aluminum and glass panels, with black-and-white photos depicting New York scenes and images of the characters, and Frank Labovitz has costumed everyone in white and soft shades of gray. (Scott stands apart with a blue shirt.) The individual performers seem to bridge several eras in their appearance, from Tracy Lynn Olivera's late-1960s teased bouffant hairdo to an unrecognizable Carolyn Cole in contemporary leggings and tunic.
The women get the larger moments here, and they deliver. As Amy, a bride on the verge of a nervous breakdown, Erin Weaver seems too reserved at first, but her shell shatters delightfully as she tears into "Getting Married Today." Madeline Botteri charms as a flight attendant who, despite thinking very hard, can't quite grasp what's going on around her. Olivera gets to writhe on the floor as she fantasizes about the fattening food she can't eat. And Sherri L. Edelen gives "The Ladies Who Lunch" an acerbic, uncompromising delivery.
Matthew Gardiner's choreography makes the most of the small MAX Theatre stage. Jon Kalbfleisch conducts just eight other musicians, but they benefit from using Jonathan Tunick's original orchestrations.