30 Days Of The 2014 Tony Awards: Day #18 - COMPANY
Today we continue the 2014 edition of our annual BroadwayWorld feature series spotlighting the very best Tony Awards-related moments of all time with a special focus on one of the most revolutionary musicals of all time, COMPANY.
Marry Me A Little
Virtually redefining what a musical could be and how it could dramatically function, Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's fiercely idiosyncratic musical comedy COMPANY coined the term "concept musical" and still startles in its unique style, structure and utilization of song. Characters commenting on the action in between playing dramatic scenes had been seen before - perhaps most famously in the Weimar theatre of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht - but COMPANY made it fresh, new and completely contemporary not only in its style, but the attitude and sounds of the night, as well. Featuring bristling yet absorbing orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, the score positively popped as originally heard at the Alvin Theatre, as did the astounding original production as directed by Hal Prince and choreographed by Michael Bennett. A true blue American original, COMPANY changed the game inextricably and took home many Tony Awards for its highly esteemed, incredibly noble efforts.
Besides Best Musical, COMPANY went on to win six top prizes, but it also set a new record by being nominated for 14 Tony Awards in many major categories, as well - six for the actors alone; Larry Kert, Elaine Stritch, Susan Browning, Charles Kimbrough, Barbara Barrie and Pamela Myers among them. Sondheim took home the formerly split awards of Best Original Music and Best Original Lyrics - merged shortly thereafter together into the Best Original Score category - while George Furth won Best Book. While Michael Bennett's exceptional choreography was nominated, Hal Prince received the Best Direction Of A Musical honor, as did Boris Aronson for Best Scenic Design. In an intriguing bit of Tony trivia, Larry Kert's nomination acted as a rare exception to the rule of only opening night actors being eligible for nominations, having replaced an ailing Dean Jones a few months into the show's run.
While Sondheim is known for even more radical and daring musicals since, COMPANY holds a place in the hearts of many for offering such pointed social commentary, relatable humor and all of those sensational songs all the while - "Being Alive" to "The Ladies Who Lunch" and far beyond.
So, now, let's take a look at some of the most celebration-worthy COMPANY moments from the Tony Awards over the years.
First up, see Sondheim take home his trophies for Best Original Music and Best Original Lyrics.
Now, glimpse Raul Esparza's incredible "Being Alive" from 2007.
Lastly, preview the NY Philharmonic production of COMPANY starring Neil Patrick Harris.
As a special bonus, view the entire 1971 Tony Awards to see all of COMPANY's acclaim fully contextualized.
What exactly is it about the myriad charms of COMPANY that make it a modern day classic? Furthermore, what is your personal favorite part of the dynamic and dense puzzle that makes it all come together? Without a doubt, COMPANY is a musical unlike any other and reminds us all why musicals can help us remember the joys of "Being Alive" more than nearly any other artform.
From This Author Pat Cerasaro