Category Archives: company

In Comes Company

EDITED TO ADD: Was it not brilliant?? I was left exhausted (well, also literally since it was late), but feeling very satisfied. I had forgotten how great of a show it is, and the TV translated the show very well, with crystal clarity. You know it’s a great recording if its most avid fans are mollified; there are 11 pages of live commentary as it was showing, with most of its fans loving every minute of it. And pleasing its avid

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fans are the hardest part, I think!

“I meant to, does that count?”

There were many chill-inducing moments. Some of my favorite moments were way more poignant and piercing that I had remembered. After Bobby asks Kathy “Did you just fall in love?” and she doesn’t respond, the pause was much longer that I had remembered. The pause was so pregnant with her regret, her obvious answer that she’s not in love, and a determination to become a wife and to have real things. I hated her for it, and yet you can’t blame her for wanting to live her life. I also didn’t realize how sad the ending to “Side by Side” is – Raul’s expression after no one returns his kazoo attempt was heartbreaking. Another favorite moment was a shot from the back of the stage, you got a peek at stuff that was going on upstage. Harry (Keith Buterbaugh) is playing his trumpet as a part of the ensemble, and he plays directly at his wife, Sarah (Kristin Huffman), who waves him away. I love how they incorporate the instrumental playing with their characters.

“The problem is, you want too little.”

I was also impressed with the marketing of this PBS recording, which was worlds better than the marketing and PR for the actual Broadway musical. I’ve heard more about this than the Broadway musical, and I liked the summary that they released (shown at the bottom of this entry). Kudos to showing a high quality show on PBS, I just wish they were airing it again. They’re re-airing it in my neighborhood super early in the morning (from 1 AM til 3:30 AM) next week, which makes it impossible for me to watch again.

“Stop looking at my charisma. “

I have a question for you Company-lovers out there. I realized why I didn’t get the musical the first time that I saw it; I was completely confused on the chronology of the show. Can someone help me? Does it occur within minutes, during his birthday party? Is he looking back at his life, or is it happening in real time? Sondheim, in the post-Company interview (don’t turn off the TV after Company is over!) talks about the “metaphysical” birthday party. At that point, I realized that I had no idea on what the time scale of the show was.

“Mock me with praise.”

I realized I can’t talk about this musical without gushing, and so I’ll take a back seat in explaining it in vague terms which of course doesn’t do it justice. Matt did a much better job of explaining the details of this show and the staging much better than me, so click here to read about his take. How do you write about something that you think is so wonderful?

“It’s better living it than looking at it.”

You can also buy the DVD!

*********

I’m a bit torn; there are three fantastic things going on tomorrow night – Yuan Yuan Tan and Tiit Helimets in Giselle at San Francisco Ballet, the PBS airing of Broadway’s Company, or the pre-finale to Project Runway. So Project Runway will continue to re-air into eternity, so that’s out. I just can’t miss seeing Company again. This musical spoke to me and so many of my friends, even thought it took a viewing for me to understand it. But sometime after the second time that I saw it, it clicked with me, and I couldn’t get it out of my head for weeks. Also, watching Raul Esparza sing “Being Alive” literally inches away from me from the front row is a powerful theater experience I’ll never forget.

What is it about? It’s about Bobby, a bachelor on his 35th birthday, looking at his life and the life of his married friends. It’s a story of searching for love, life, and a sense of self. It’s filled with humor that makes you laugh, but reverberates in a bittersweet pang of reality. I’m really not doing it justice. I’m really curious what newbies will think of this show, so feel free to comment if you saw/are planning on seeing it (Matt? Tonya? Art?).

An interesting fact – Bobby is based on Warren Beatty, pre-Annette Bening. Some other characters are based on real people as well.

There are preview video clips that PBS has released, here is their opening song, “Company”. Notice how the actors are playing their own instruments, and all the music you hear is what you see onstage. Watching this clip again, I’m amazed at how the actors are able to act while they’re playing their instruments. I also love how the instruments serve as a metaphor for being involved, for playing the game. Director John Doyle is a genius.

The PBS website version:

“Company, the 2007 Tony Award winner for Best Musical Revival, airs February 20 on PBS’ GREAT PERFORMANCES series.

Long before Sex and the City, the Stephen Sondheim/George Furth musical Company took an unconventional look at love and commitment in complex modern New York. The 1970 era-defining classic was – and is – an honest, funny and sophisticated portrayal of five married couples as seen through the eyes of their mutual friend Robert, a waffling, 35-year-old bachelor evaluating the pros and cons of wedded life. Raúl Esparza, who won Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for his portrayal of leading man Robert, heads the cast of actor-musicians. John Doyle (Sweeney Todd) directs.”

Be sure to watch it!

Great Performances presents “Company”