BWW Review: Moonbox Productions Steps Up in Class With COMPANY
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by George Furth, Produced by Sharman Altshuler, Directed by Allison Olivia Choat, Music Directed by Dan Rodriguez, Choreographed by Rachel Bertone; Set Design, Dale Conklin; Lighting Design, Jeffrey E. Salzberg; Sound Design, Dan Costello; Costume Design, Susanne Miller; Stage Manager, Katherine Humbert; Props Master, Elizabeth Arnold; Assistant Stage Manager, Alexandra Jameson
CAST: Dave Carney, Leigh Barrett, Rick Sherburne, Daniel Forest Sullivan, Teresa Winner Blume, Matthew Zahnzinger, Anne Colpitts, Brian Bakofen, Catherine Lee Christie, Peter Mill, Shonna Cirone, Lisa Dempsey, Katie Clark, Megan Alicia
Performances through March 1 by Moonbox Productions at Roberts Studio Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, MA; Box Office 617-933-8600 or www.bostontheatrescene.com, www.moonbox.org
Stephen Sondheim is a musical theatre sorcerer. How else can it be explained that a show, first produced in 1970, continues to connect with audiences who live in a world of social media, hooking up, and a greater than 50% divorce rate? Company explores many facets of friendship, love, commitment, and marriage through the eyes of one man, struggling to find his niche in the realm of personal relationships. It is a timeless, universal quest that resonates with anyone who has ever dated, married, or even just watched their friends pair off while standing on the sidelines. In other words...everyone.
Moonbox Productions steps up in class from the Plaza Theatre to the Roberts Studio Theatre for their first large scale musical comedy under the direction of Allison Olivia Choat, with choreography by Rachel Bertone, and Musical Director Dan Rodriguez at the keyboard in front of eight live musicians crammed onto an upstage platform. The fourteen-member cast is a mix of Moonbox veterans and newcomers, led by Dave Carney as the bachelor Bobby and Leigh Barrett as cynical Joanne (talk about casting against type). The show opens with Bobby being fêted at a "surprise" 35th birthday party by his married friends, five couples clamoring to share vicariously in his adventures of singlehood. In a series of non-linear vignettes, Bobby observes their relationships, juggles dates with a trio of women, and tries to gain insight into which status is the better deal.
Each of the couples in Choat's pairings seems well-matched, with Barrett and Rick Sherburne (Larry), Daniel Forest Sullivan (David) and Teresa Winner Blume (Jenny), Matthew Zahnzinger (Harry) and Anne Colpitts (Sarah), Brian Bakofen (Peter) and Catherine Lee Christie (Susan), and Peter Mill (Paul) and Shonna Cirone (Amy) portraying a variety of relationship styles. Harry and Sarah put Bobby in the middle of their competitive gamesmanship, driving him to ask the husband if he's ever sorry he got married. Sondheim's answer is the magnificent doublespeak "Sorry-Grateful," wryly sung by Zahnzinger, Sullivan, and Sherburne.
When Bobby visits with Peter and Susan, he is envious of their fabulous Manhattan apartment with a terrace that almost offers a view of the East River, as well as Susan's Southern grace and style. When he jokes that he'd like to be the first to know if Peter ever decides to leave Susan, they happily inform him that they're divorcing. An evening smoking pot with David and Jenny gives Bobby a window into the intimate way they know each other, leading him to announce that he's ready for a change in his life. Segue to his three girlfriends - Kathy (Lisa Dempsey), April (Katie Clark), and Marta (Megan Alicia) - singing his truth ("You Could Drive a Person Crazy") with outstanding three-part harmony.