BWW Review: COMPANY at Avon Players Is a Thought-Provoking Exploration of Life and Love
Stephen Sondheim's Company, playing now through June 1st at Avon Players in Rochester Hills, is a thought-provoking exploration of love and life in 1970's New York City. Bobby has a full social calendar but avoids romantic commitments. On the night of his thirty-fifth birthday, he reassesses his life by reviewing his relationships with his married friends and girlfriends. While all his friends are happy with their spouses, marriage has never been Bobby's speed. Through a series of vignettes showcasing his friend's day to day lives as couples, Bobby is taken on a journey of self-discovery. Smart and funny, Company takes the audience on a journey of one man's lonely life while he figures out the true meaning behind "Being Alive".
Avon's production of Company is a fresh adaptation of the Tony-nominated musical. I have had the good fortune of seeing many shows at Avon Players, and I am always thoroughly impressed with the talent level onstage. The raw acting talent and vocal ranges of the performers are always top notch. The cast of Company is no exception. Each of the characters brings a uniqueness to the entire ensemble of actors, and a realness to Sondheim's compelling lyrics.
Matt Cason, playing the lead role of Bobby, has a great stage presence and does a superb job making the role his own. Bobby is an unenthused New Yorker, living vicariously through the lives of his married friends. Cason brings a certain realness to the role that makes you feel as if you are watching your closest friend perform on stage. Vocally, Cason can hit all of the notes beautifully. Even through minor microphone challenges during Bobby's big solo number "Being Alive", Cason's voice shined through. Cason's other large musical number "Side by Side by Side" is a crowd-pleaser that allows Bobby to standout as a dominant force on the stage.
Another dominant male in the show is Clayton Hargrave playing the role of Harry, one of Bobby' friends. I was nearly brought to tears during Hargrave's sentimental performance of "Sorry-Grateful", in which Harry explains to Bobby the joy that he gets out of being married. This is an extremely heartfelt number, and Hargrave's soft, soothing voice in this number really allows the beautiful and meaningful lyrics in the song to shine through. This number was one of the highlights of the first act for me.
Jenna Russel, playing the role of Amy, tackled one of the hardest vocal numbers in the show with ease. "Getting Married Today" is a self-proclamation of why Amy doesn't think she should get married to Paul. What adds even more humor to this number is it is sung on the day Amy and Paul are meant to wed. This song is an incredibly challenging number, as the lyrics are written to be sung at an incredibly fast-paced. Russel does a perfect job of singing at the required pace with ease, and her incredible diction allows the audience to understand every word she is saying. Russel's rendition of this number was a definite high point of the second act.
I would recommend Avon Player's production of Company to anybody who is looking to see a fresh spin on a Sondheim classic. Unlike a lot of musicals, Company is not a flashy dance-show with abstract characters that are unrelatable. This show presents the lives of real people in day-to-day situations that the audience will easily be able to relate to. Avon's production of Company is refreshing, smart, and funny.
The rest of the cast of Company includes Johannah Steinbrecher-Booker (Sarah), Kirsten Renas (Susan), Eric Rodman (Peter), Odera Office (Jenny), Patrick Daniels (David), Nicholas Frederick (Paul), Joy Oetjens (Joanne), Jamie Maurer (Larry), Veronica Dean (Marta), Cheyenne Johnson (Kathy), Sarah Milano (April), and Max Schein (Waiter). The show is directed by Ryan Moore.
Company runs through June 1st at Avon Players. Tickets for all shows are $22. Seniors and Student tickets are $20 on Sundays. Call 248.608.9077 for tickets or order online at www.avonplayers.org. Group rates are available by calling the box office. Connect with Avon Players on Twitter at @avonplayers and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AvonPlayersTheatre.
*Show information courtesy of Avon Players