“Phone rings, door chimes, in comes company! No strings, good times, room hums, company!” The masterful lyrics of Stephen Sondheim‘s Company simply speak for themselves. Any other written or spoken words fail to capture the joviality and wonder and words literally cannot capture the energetic buzz and raucous speed in which the actors deliver the lyrics.
Five couples come together to celebrate the 35th Birthday of their good friend Bobby (Neil Patrick Harris), the perpetual bachelor. Bobby’s friends utterly adore him, and yet they all have something to say about his personal life. Having so many close friends who are married, Bobby is the odd one out, and it is his role to question both his own motivations and the system himself. But little does he know the actual happiness that exists within his friend’s marriages.
Neil Patrick Harris leads the star studded company in question with ease and terrific comic timing. Even as a love scared cad, Harris is endearing and extremely amiable. His frustrations exist within the privileges of the middle class, an appropriate audience who are the most likely to attend such a performance as an audience member. As Bobby questions the sanctities of marriage, quite often falling apart within the relationships of his friends, he has ample ammunition to ask the question “Why get married?”
Bobby is the lead character and is rarely off stage, but the show still stars an ensemble cast. In this case, the ensemble in question is insanely talented with most having performed on the stage for years. Martha Plimpton and Steven Colbert are easily the most enjoyable couple as Sarah and Harry, especially during the very physical karate scene. Christina Hendricks also charms as the dim flight attendant April, whose foolishness is very funny. Tony Award winner Katie Finneran gives the most impressively delivered performance, shooting out ten thousand syllables per second as Amy in the song “Getting Married Today”. Broadway is clearly still in love with the ultimate Broadway diva Patti LuPone, more than thirty years after her performance as Eva Peron in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita. No other performer deservedly received such rapturous applause after performing the song “The Ladies Who Lunch.”
Sondheim’s idiosyncratic music and lyrics are playful and sensational, along with a witty book from George Furth. Relationships are the main theme at play, and universality of this theme has allowed Company to age well since the original Broadway production in 1971.
Filmed from a live performance at Lincoln Centre in New York, director Lonny Price brought the production together with the New York Philharmonic for four sold-out performances. The filmed direction summons up familiar images from William Wyler’s Funny Girl, as the camera quickly pulls out from the performer into a wider shot, often as they are holding their hands in the air.