Oscar E Moore

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COMPANY – reinterpreted revival revisited – a mixed bag of tricks

December 15th, 2021 by Oscar E Moore

2021 is the year of SONDHEIM.  Broadway: COMPANY.  Off B’way: ASSASINS.  Film: WEST SIDE STORY.  And his untimely, sudden, unfortunate death.

Flashback to 1970.  After an extremely successful summer at Canal Fulton Ohio’s summer stock theater company where I was “resident juvenile” and having just finished a run of DAMES SEA in Washington D.C. there I was at the Alvin Theatre watching the original production of COMPANY directed by Hal Prince.

Within a year I was runner-up as Young Ben in FOLLIES which changed my life forever for the better.

Little did I know as a bright eyed actor/singer/dancer that one day I would be reviewing this revamped revival directed by Marianne Elliott at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.

A revival starring Katrina Lenk and Patti LuPone.  With a supporting cast of excellent actor/singer/dancers, ubiquitous on stage cell phones and a gimmick.  You gotta get a gimmick, right Mr. Sondheim?

The main character Bobby, a single “he” is now Bobbie a single “she” – an alcoholic whose friends are celebrating her 35th birthday.  A birthday she would rather forget.

As she wanders about the neon lit cubicles designed by Bunny Christie, like Alice down the rabbit-hole, she travels through Sondheim and Furth’s wonderland of marriage, imperfect relationships, divorce and one night stands.

Bobbie is the third wheel in her married couple’s lives.  Their baiting and bickering.  Their sharing and squabbling.  Their teasing and tempting.  Does she want this?  The question is really – what does she want?  With Katrina Lenk we never really know.  This part seems to be beyond her capabilities.  I never cared about her as Bobbie.  Bobbie’s inner core was never revealed nor conveyed.

In Act II as the company sings “What would we do without you?” a little voice is my head shouted – “a hell of a lot better!”

The master’s score is still tremendous as played by an above stage orchestra.  Lyrics are totally amazing.  Some refitted to retrofit the new sexual identities of some characters.  All well and good.

The best is Matt Doyle’s “Getting Married Today” with its rapid tongue-twisting brilliant lyric and his spot on delivery as he pulls out of his same sex marriage with Paul an equally strong Etai Benson.  It’s a certified show-stopper!

“You Could Drive a Person Crazy” now sung by three hot men to a very lukewarm Bobbie is less successful.

The lengthy book by the late George Furth is still a problem making an almost 3 hour show seem longer.  Even more so with the tinkering of Ms. Elliott.

Great comic timing by two chaps named Christopher – Fitzgerald and Sieber, a joyous Jennifer Simard and the martini swilling Patti LuPone who knocks “The Ladies Who Lunch” out of the stratosphere liven up the proceedings.

Bobby Conte’s version of “Another Hundred People” is too scattered directorial wise, yet he bravely survives it.

And Claybourne Elder!  His delicious physique will have everyone standing in line to get to Barcelona with him drooling all the way.  Great voice and comic delivery to boot.

The biggest disappointment is Katrina Lenk’s delivery of “Being Alive” which she barely seems to be.  It’s really a shame with an otherwise excellent production to end with such an unfortunate low.  The less said the better.

Photos:  Matthew Murphy


Proof of vaccination.  Photo ID required.  Masks required in theatre.

One intermission.  2 and a half hours.

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