Great Performances: Season 36, Episode 7

Company: A Musical Comedy (20 Feb. 2008)

TV Episode  -   -  Biography | Drama | Music
8.6
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Ratings: 8.6/10 from 335 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 3 critic

Centering on Bobby, a confirmed bachelor celebrating his 35th birthday with his 10 closest friends (who also happen to be five couples), "Company" culminates in Bobby's transformation from ... See full summary »

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Title: Company: A Musical Comedy (20 Feb 2008)

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Cast

Episode cast overview:
Kelly Jeanne Grant ...
Kathy
...
Marta
...
April
Matt Castle ...
Peter
Amy Justman ...
Susan
Fred Rose ...
...
...
Kristin Huffman ...
Sarah
Robert Cunningham ...
Paul
Heather Laws ...
Amy
...
Larry
...
Joanne
...
Bobby
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Storyline

Centering on Bobby, a confirmed bachelor celebrating his 35th birthday with his 10 closest friends (who also happen to be five couples), "Company" culminates in Bobby's transformation from unattached swinger to tentative monogamist. Written by PBS/Great Performances

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20 February 2008 (USA)  »

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1.85 : 1
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Trivia

This is a recording of the revival of the popular Stephen Sondheim musical; the revival ran on Broadway from November 2006 to July 2007. The production was directed by John Doyle. As in his previous year's revival of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, Doyle had his actors double as the orchestra for the production. See more »

Quotes

Robert: [singing] Make me confused! Mock me with praise! Let me be used! Vary my days...
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Connections

Version of Company (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Barcelona
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Performed by Raúl Esparza and Elizabeth Stanley
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User Reviews

 
Excellent and hugely enjoyable production of a Sondheim masterpiece
30 August 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

If you love Stephen Sondheim you'll love Company. Maybe not his absolute best as a whole, Sweeney Todd from a personal opinion is his masterpiece, but has everything that is to love about his musicals and quite possibly his most accessible too. Smartly written, funny and poignant with clever, poetic lyrics and beautiful music as well as characters you can identify with, even when not Sondheim's very best it is one of his best. The story is somewhat unconventional in that there isn't hugely much of one, but it is still so entertaining while taking on a very emotional journey that you don't care. It also develops its characters strongly, and relationships are handled in a deft and sometimes cynical way.

This is an excellent production. For me the Neil Patrick Harris production from 2011 was marginally better, the omission of Tick-Tock in this production was disappointing(though it's not the first time it's been cut from the show) and Angel Desai has a few moments of strain in Another Hundred People. The 2011 production has Tick-Tock and has Another Hundred People sung perfectly. The orchestra don't sound as powerful either, those who love the big band Sondheim will want to look elsewhere as how it's performed here is part of John Doyle's concept, with some of the actors also taking on the roles of instrumentalists. To be said though, it did work very well for the production and was very well performed.

Doyle's stage direction is fine, it is minimalist and done like a cabaret act- Company is essentially a concept musical in the first place so doing something different is not a problem- but the smart, funny moments still make you laugh and the poignant moments genuinely moving. The piano is like a character itself in this production and it's very effectively done, with people singing on top of it and also bringing out Bobby's "boyish voyeur". The production is also remarkably intimate, that works because some of the themes in Company require that touch, and it was good that it was clear that Bobby was the focal point while not wholly neglecting the supporting cast.

Production values-wise, the production is striking in how simple it is. Some may find it stark in colour, and it is understandable with the performers in black and the stage being bare a lot of the time, but personally it fitted perfectly with the intimacy of the staging. The video directing is clear, while not cinematic it's never stage bound either as well as not too close or too distant, there's a good deal of professionalism here. With the close ups of Bobby's face you can feel and see the emotion. The sound is excellent and the picture quality is generally good.

Raul Esparza does a wonderful job as Bobby, he has a lovely voice and has a great sensitivity, charisma and boyish charm. Barbara Walsh attacks her role with fierce abandon and a good sense of worldliness(especially in Ladies at Lunch), true she's not Elaine Stritch nor did she try or need to be. Her voice is great, it's not as volcanic as Patti Lupone's but quality-wise it is a much more appealing sound. Angel Desai does sound a little strained at times in her big number Another Hundred People but is appropriately saucy and charming. Heather Laws is wonderfully intense, Elizabeth Stanley is affecting and warm personality-wise and the male ensemble while simplified in number sing beautifully.

All in all, excellent and hugely enjoyable. 8.5/10 Bethany Cox


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