Sunday, July 3, 2016

COMPANY • Insight Theatre Company

When Company opened in 1970, it was considered a “concept musical.” Abandoning a linear narrative, its vignettes center around a milestone birthday for Robert, a single guy living in New York city. Bobby, as his friends call him, is the favorite third wheel among his "good and crazy" married friends, and though he extols the virtues of the single life (much to the envy of his male buddies), the attempts to set him up with a nice girl to settle down with, the frustrations of the women he's dating, and the reflections that always come with turning a year older, shake the comfort of his bachelor status.

Full disclosure -- I think Stephen Sondheim is a genius. His sharp lyrics, counterpoint melodies and tight harmonies are no joke, and tricky to pull off. Under Doug Finlayson’s direction, Insight Theatre Company’s production has some blemishes, but comes close to hitting this one out of the park.

Martin Fox and the cast of Insight Theatre Company’s Company
Photo credit: John Lamb
Playing out on Peter and Margery Spack’s slick set, Bobby is about to turn 35 and his married friends are throwing him a surprise party. Martin Fox is solid as the amiable bachelor, and does a wonderful job with "Someone Is Waiting.” The passively-aggressive couple Sarah (Meghan Baker) and Harry (Phil Leveling) are the first of his married friends we meet, with one trying not to consume carbs and the other trying not to drink. Jonathan Hey and Cherlynn Alvarez are convincing as David and his “square” wife Jenny, inviting Bobby over for a little stoner action, and Cole Gutman and Taylor Pietz are the oddly matched Peter, metropolitan and curious, and Southern charmer, Susan. Matt Pentecost is loving and attentive as Paul, and Stephanie Long is quite funny as his reluctant bride-to-be, Amy, and she nails Sondheim’s clever patter song "Getting Married Today,” though some of the lines in the higher register during the number are difficult to understand. This audio problem also plagued the trio of Bobby’s girlfriends, Bailey Reeves as the simple-minded stewardess April, Melissa Gerth as Kathy, the one who got away, and Samantha Irene as the free-spirited Marta in their number, "You Could Drive a Person Crazy." Laurie McConnell and Michael Brightman are jaded couple Joanne and Larry, and McConnell’s performance is a standout, particularly her rendition of one of the most recognizable songs in the score, "The Ladies Who Lunch.”

Martin Fox and the cast of Insight Theatre Company’s Company
Photo credit: John Lamb
Seeing Bobby come face-to-face with an existential crisis of sorts, weighing the pros and cons of married life through his friends, is warmly gratifying, and originally mounted during a time when such things weren’t really examined in musicals of the day. The play is firmly set in the 70’s but the opening number has Bobby checking his messages on a cell phone. A small quibble, but it threw me a little. Still, it’s well worth checking out this Sondheim classic -- you’ve got one more chance!


Book by George Furth
Music/Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim 
Directed by Doug Finlayson
Heagney Theatre at Nerinx Hall, 530 East Lockwood Ave.
through July 3 | tickets: $10 - $35
Performances Sunday at 2pm

Robert: Martin Fox
Harry: Phil Leveling
Sarah: Meghan Baker
David: Jonathan Hey
Jenny: Cherlynn Alvarez
Peter: Cole Gutman
Susan: Taylor Pietz
Paul: Matt Pentecost
Amy: Stephanie Long*
Larry: Michael Brightman
Joanne: Laurie McConnell*
April: Bailey Reeves
Kathy: Melissa Gerth*
Marta: Samantha Irene

Stage Manager: Savannah Throop
Technical Direction: Joshua Noll
Musical Direction: Catherine Edwards Kopff
Scenic Designer and Scenic Painter: Peter Spack
Lighting Design: David Blake
Scenic Designer and Props Master: Margery Spack
Costume Design: Laura Hanson
Sound Design: Brett Harness
Choreography: Melissa Gerth

Piano/Conductor: Catherine Edwards Kopff*
Trumpet: Dan Smith
Reeds: Rebecca Parisi
Bass: Guy Cantonwine
Percussion: Adam Kopff*

* Denotes member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of
Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States and American Federation of Musicians Local 2-197

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