BWW Album Review: Here's To The COMPANY 2018 LONDON CAST RECORDING
Phone rings, door chimes, in comes musical modernization! Closing in on 50 years since its Broadway debut, George Furth and Stephen Sondheim's COMPANY returns with a revolutionary new production in the West End.
This rendition sees the previously male lead role Bobby now as the female Bobbie, portrayed by Rosalie Craig. The gender swap is thanks to the direction of Marianne Elliott, who worked side by side with Sondheim on the revamping.
This cast album encapsulates the original story, while also bringing a fresh, new age revitalization to it. This production and its subsequent album should leave musical theater fans expectant, if not begging, for more reimagined renditions. This overhauled interpretation paves the way for what I believe is soon to come in the world of musical theater, and especially revivals.
This cast album holds true to Furth and Sondheim's originally story, but simultaneously depicts relevant representation. It's difficult to call to mind many other half-a-century-old musicals that resonate with audiences the way COMPANY holds up here and now. So, kudos to Marianne Elliott for her reworking, and to Furth and Sondheim for writing a story that taps into the human condition in such a universal way, regardless of gender.
The story follows Bobbie and her melancholy musings on marriage, being single, being content, companionship and things of the like. All the while, we hear the input from her seemingly well-adjusted, coupled-up friends. The are relentless in their pursuits for her to find someone like they have ("Company", "Poor Baby"), but at what cost? It is sung that Bobbie does not know the closeness they feel, and they pity her for it.
On the other side of the coin, Bobbie starts off seemingly content in her singleness, and not overtly feeling like she is missing out. Whether this is due to her not knowing any differently or just general indifference, it is not a point of contention to her until it is. This "missing out" and worry for her is framed so pertinently and consistently by her friends. Even if it does come from a place of concern for her future and general wellbeing, it creates and unearths a pensive paranoia in Bobbie.
Lyrics like "no one wants you to be happy more than I do, but..." and "you need to marry somebody, not just some body," lead Bobbie to start considering the idea more seriously.
Craig gives a dazzling vocal performance throughout the album. One of the bigger standout moments is her rendition of the heart-wrenching "Marry Me A Little". The track serves as her response to these prompted ideas from her friends. Craig's performance of this Act 1 closer expresses her change of heart and perspective.
Her emotionality amps up and up, launching her into one of the last tracks on the album, "Being Alive". All of her contemplations come to a head in this number right from the start, where she expresses frustration in response to her friends where she previously answered to them with warmth. As she sings of her fears and vexations about being in a relationship, her friends rebuke everything says with reasonable justification. This leads to the final, cathartic change we see in Bobbie where she finally expresses a longing for that closeness.
Craig is supported by a talented cast of performers. Jonathan Bailey and Alex Gaumond give solid performances in the ever-frantic "Not Getting Married Today", making that track a very entertaining listen.
This production also sees Patti LuPone revisiting the role Joanne, which she previously played in the production with the New York Philharmonic version opposite Neil Patrick Harris' Bobby. Her voice is so well suited for "Ladies Who Lunch". Listening to her blistering intonations while singing rather judicious lyrics speak to her talents as an all-around performer.
This COMPANY for 2018 is an updated telling, yet holds true to the original story. And that's what revivals are all about, isn't it? That's what they're really about.
This production of COMPANY is playing at West End's Gielgud Theatre until 30 March, 2019. For tickets and more information, visit here! This cast album became available for digital download and streaming on Friday, 1 February 2019.