Review: COMPANY at Des Moines Performing Arts

The party is here through February 11.

By: Feb. 07, 2024
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Review: COMPANY at Des Moines Performing Arts
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When Des Moines Performing Arts announces its new season, there is always a show or two I can't help but get excited about. This year, one of those shows for me was "Company," which is now playing through February 11. I had the fortune to see the show on Broadway the night before it won 5 Tony Awards, including Best Direction of a Musical for Marianne Elliott, Best Scenic Design for a Musical by Bunny Christie, and Best Revival of a Musical. It was an electric night of theatre I will never forget. So, going into opening night at Des Moines Performing Arts on February 6, I had high expectations for the show.

Before we learn how I felt about the tour, "Company" by Stephen Sondheim, centers around our main character, Bobbie. In the original production, a man played the role; in this production, the role is played by a woman. Having the role of Bobbie played by a woman puts a whole new lens on the show. It's Bobbie's 35 birthday, and her married/soon-to-be-married friends are gathering in her NYC Apartment for a surprise party. Throughout the show, we are introduced to her married friends and her three boyfriends. As the show goes on, we see Bobbie examine wants. Does she want to get married? Does she want to have a family? You'll have to see the show to find out.

Having seen the show in New York, I was most excited to see how the show would adapt for the tour. There were a few slight alterations to the set by Bunny Christie, but none that took away from the show you will see. One of my favorite changes came in Act 2 when Bobbie opened a giant present that had arrived on stage. It was a great addition to the show. There were also a few changes to the costumes designed by Bunny Christie. What I appreciated about the changes was that they felt tied to the actors playing the characters and added to the story. 

What makes "Company" such an amazing show is the talented cast that brings these characters to life on stage. Before we talk about this cast, there are a few fun notes to point out. The show featured no understudies on opening night, so I can't shine a spotlight on them as I have for the past few shows. Another fun note is there is one cast member that Des Moines audiences will be excited to see on stage again. James Earl Jones II is appearing for the 4th time at the Civic Center in his 3rd show. He was seen in the tour production of "The Gershwins: Porgy and Bess," and both times the" Come From Away" tour came to Des Moines. In this production, he is playing his most comedic role to date.

 While the cast is featured throughout the show, a few had some of my favorite moments of the night. The first comes from Matt Rodin, who plays Jamie, a role reimagined for this production as a gay man getting ready to be married. At times, his take on the character has the audience in tears laughing, especially during the show-stopping "Getting Married Today." Another fantastic performance I have to talk about is Judy McLane as Joanne. Her interpretation of the character is a little softer than past performers, yet still gripping, especially during "The Ladies Who Lunch."

You can't talk about "Company" without mentioning Britney Colman, who plays Bobbie. What I appreciated most about her character is how much she said, without speaking a word. Her subtle nuances make her songs, such as "Marry Me A Little" and "Being Alive," so powerful with just her and the open stage.

Announcement season is always a party. Especially when it comes to announcements from Des Moines Performing Arts. It's especially exciting when you discover a show you've wanted to see is announced as part of the lineup. This season, that show for me was "Company." Even though I had seen this production in New York, the way it is reimagined for the tour by the cast and designers made it just as thrilling to watch. I know I look forward to seeing this show again. The tour's Des Moines Stop runs through February 11. To find out more or to purchase tickets, click the link below.

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy




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