Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires

Company
Barrington Stage Company
Review by Fred Sokol | Season Schedule

Also see Fred's review of Appropriate


The Cast
Photo by Daniel Rader
Barrington Stage Company's production of Company, continuing at the Pittsfield, Massachusetts, theater through September 10th, sweeps one away after a time—into 1970s territory, however distant or dated that might seem. In fact, some 35-year-old men, then and now, are still searchers, wondering about the potential of marriage, still observing married couples who hope for the best. Julianne Boyd, directing actor Aaron Tveit (as Robert) and a musically adept and even hyper (that is a compliment) supporting group of performers, scores mightily with this production, one which fully realizes the genius of Stephen Sondheim (composer and lyricist).

The musical opens with everyone singing the title tune, the one inclusive of "Bobby, baby, Bobby, bubi" and so forth. The attractive leading man is single and he visits many friends. Husbands and wives offer "The Little Things You Do Together" as advisory to surviving marriage. Robert meets Sarah (Jeannette Bayardelle), on a diet, and Harry (Lawrence Street), no longer drinking. Susan (Kate Loprest) and Peter (Paul Schaefer) are about to divorce. David (James Ludwig) and Jenny (Jane Pfitsch) are marijuana indulgers. Robert, at this point, is seeing three women, flight attendant April (Mara Davi), Kathy Rebecca Kuznick), and Marta (Nora Schell). Ms. Schell excels with her rendition of "Another Hundred People." Late in the first act, it becomes apparent that Amy (Lauren Marcus), who is about to marry Paul (Joseph Spieldenner), feels this is a major mistake ("Getting Married Today"). Marcus' Amy is wildly, wonderfully comedic.

The second act opener is a snappy "Side by Side by Side" which Robert introduces before the husbands and wives join in. Later, Robert encourages April to sleep with him ... a victory? But she is due to fly to "Barcelona" and might have to exit summarily. This is one of many superlative scenes.

Bookwriter George Furth and Stephen Sondheim created the role of Joanne for Elaine Stritch. Joanne, a bit older than the others, is married to Larry (Peter Reardon). For the BSC rendering, actress Ellen Harvey takes the part and is most convincing with her candid remarks about others, while she is not especially keen on herself either. Her moment in the show occurs just before the finale, with "The Ladies Who Lunch."

Tveit, sensational yet warm throughout, closes the evening with a galvanic "Being Alive." He showcases a voice which easily reaches the figurative musical ceiling. At this point in the run, he is relaxed yet fully engaged. He nails the character's youthful and seeking nature, moving fluently as he realizes Boyd's specific direction and movement provided by choreographer Jeffrey Page.

This production also benefits from uptempo musical accompaniment led by musical director Dan Pardo. Kristen Robinson's nifty set design includes stairways which swing around and lead to an upper tier. Sara Jean Tosetti's costumes accentuate a bygone era of fashion.

What is most distinctive about this show is the music of the master, Stephen Sondheim. It is about range and voice, as Robert explores the possible terrain of marriage and his own station in life. After all, the good-looking, available man at 35 is thinking about what it means to wed someone, complete with the possible exhilaration and, running through a multitude of varying emotions, disappointment that might follow. The plot is simple to follow but perhaps not quite as simplistic as it might seem. I was somewhat hesitant to attend the current production because the memory of the BSC Company presented at Mount Everett High School in Sheffield 17 years ago insists it would forever be my favorite take on the musical. But say this: the current BSC mainstage production is smashingly impressive. The talent, here, is in abundance.

Company continues at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, Massachusetts through September 10th, 2017. For tickets, call (413) 236-8888 or visit BarringtonStageCo.org.


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