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BWW Review: Phone Rings, Door Chimes, in Comes COMPANY at ArtFACTORY!

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Phone rings, door chimes, in comes COMPANY!

BWW Review: Phone Rings, Door Chimes, in Comes COMPANY at ArtFACTORY!

Phone rings, door chimes, in comes COMPANY!

artFACTORY is ecstatic to present Stephen Sondheim's COMPANY, December 3 through 19!

This hilarious Tony Award winning musical surrounds confirmed bachelor Robert on and around his thirty-fifth birthday. Through a series of dinner parties, drinks, weddings, and dates, Robert weighs the pros and cons of staying single with his zany group of closest friends. Including beloved songs by Stephen Sondheim like "Being Alive," "Another Hundred People," "The Ladies Who Lunch," and "Getting Married Today," and a side-splitting book by George Furth, COMPANY is a true gem of musical theatre. You'll find it hard not to relate with Bobby and his friends as they hold a magnifying glass to relationships and marriage, with tongues planted firmly in cheeks.

BWW Review: Phone Rings, Door Chimes, in Comes COMPANY at ArtFACTORY! COMPANY's brilliant Houston-local cast stars Colton Berry as Robert, Laura Renfroe and Allan McFarlane as Joanne and Larry, Crystyl Swanson and Danny Willis as Sarah and Harry, Heather Hall and Matthew Lawrence as Amy and Paul, Julia Noble and Luke Hamilton as Susan and Peter, Olivia Clayton and Sebastian Pinzon as Jenny and David, Ivanna Martinez as Marta, Nicole Ercan as April, and Ronnie McLaren as Kathy. COMPANY also features Emily Curda, Leanna Elkins, Stephanie Welder, and Pari Zangara as the Vocal Ensemble/Swings. COMPANY is Directed and Designed by Colton Berry, Choreographed and Co-Directed by Luke Hamilton, Music Directed by Jane Volke, and Stage Managed by Michael Castillo and Nelson Perez.

BWW Review: Phone Rings, Door Chimes, in Comes COMPANY at ArtFACTORY! Were you as shocked as I was to hear of the passing of Stephen Sondheim? A musical theatre titan for as long as I can remember, I assumed that a genius like that would last forever. In a way, he will. Through the hundreds of words, thousands of melodies and millions of memories he created through his art. Sondheim's works of musical theatre are arguably the best and certainly the most difficult to perform. artFACTORY presents a brilliant, fresh production of Company that honors the late legend in the best way.

The cast of multi-talented performers handle the deft and complicated score of staples such as "Another Hundred People", "Ladies Who Lunch" and "Being Alive" with a lion's share of skill and confidence. Their strong and distinct voices ring out over countermelodies and brisk tempos with airtight harmonies and strong execution.

Nicole Ercan as April the flight attendant proved to be an audience favorite with her squeaky voice, great comedic timing and airline assigned hand gestures. Heather Hall (Amy) delivered "Getting Married Today", one of the hardest songs within the musical theatre canon, with ease and aplomb. Danny Willis (Harry) and Crystyl Swanson (Sarah)'s chemistry and physical comedy is to die for. Laura Hasting Renfroe (Joanne) and Ivanna Martinez (Marta) belted the house down with nuanced performances that equaled their powerful voices. Colton Berry's Bobby, a man riddled with a mid-life crisis and a host of coupled friends, provides endless amounts of charm and impressive vocal performances.

BWW Review: Phone Rings, Door Chimes, in Comes COMPANY at ArtFACTORY! The use of a small black space filled with thick fog and littered with birthday balloons and a single couch gave the cast endless creative possibilities. The strategic staging ebbed and flowed to echo Bobby's free flowing streams of consciousness. Co-Directed by Colton Berry and Luke Hamilton, both directors use a cast of nineteen actors, including themselves, to make good use of the small theatre. Smartly spare and cohesive, the directors use one or two pieces of furniture to suggest many locations such as living rooms, weddings, nightclubs and bedrooms. The show's lighting design was also a character itself- a hot spotlight exposed Bobby even when he didn't quite want to be seen, shadows hid Bobby's lovers when they so desperately wanted to be seen, it pulsed red during nightclub and party scenes and turned a shade of cool tones during the story's darker themes of loneliness, divorce and ennui.

Even after witnessing the show's long running time and almost too-relevant subject material, I left the theatre inspired and with a refreshing verve. Run, don't walk, to see artFACTORY put their precise spin on the multi-faceted musical Company.

COMPANY runs December 3 through 19, with 8:00 p.m. performances on Fridays and Saturdays as well as 5:00 p.m. matinees on Sundays. General Admission tickets are $25 and can be purchased online at www.artFACTORYhouston.com, via phone at 832.210.5200, or at the door.


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From This Author Alric Davis