BWW Reviews: Bucks County Playhouse Presents an Enjoyable COMPANY
"Phone rings, door chimes, in comes company." This is how the title song from Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's musical, COMPANY, begins. This musical is about marriage and commitment, and it is set in New York City. COMPANY is considered one of the more challenging musicals for the cast, crew and orchestra, but if it is done well it provides for a highly enjoyable evening of theatrical entertainment. Bucks County Playhouse produces an entertaining production of COMPANY, with a strong cast.
George Furth wrote the book for COMPANY. Furth's original concept for this show began with eleven one-act plays that would feature one actor who would play the lead in each of the eleven shows. Eventually Stephen Sondheim was shown the book and he ultimately wrote the music and lyrics for the show. Hence, the musical COMPANY was born. The original Broadway production of COMPANY opened in 1970 with Hal Prince as the director. The story of COMPANY is about a man, Robert, who is turning 35, and celebrating his birthday with his closest friends, five neurotic married couples. Robert assesses the pros and cons of relationships throughout the by observing his married friends' relationships as he decides whether he wants to get married himself. Under the direction of Hunter Foster, COMPANY is an energetic and amusing look at relationships and marriage as it delves into topics of love, marriage, divorce and friendship.
Justin Guarini plays the role of Robert, the charismatic thirty-five year old whose life we follow throughout the show. Guarini moves from one scene to another flawlessly, and he is immediately likable from the moment he appears onstage. What I really enjoyed about Guarini's performance is that he took a more lighthearted approach to this role. As he contemplated his friends relationships throughout the show, it is as if the audience can hear him thinking, "Does marriage make everyone this irrational?" In addition, Guarini's song, "Being Alive," is a stellar rendition of this number. Candy Buckley plays Joanne, the most cynical of Robert's friends. Buckley is wonderfully cynical in this show. Kate Wetherhead plays Amy, who flawlessly blazes through the tongue twisting song, "Getting Married Today." Wetherhead's version of this song is energetic and passionate, and her performance should not be missed.
There are a few more standout performances I need to mention. Sarah and Harry, the extremely competitive couple, are played by Jennifer Cody and John Bolton. Their karate routine was animated and lively, and provided a hearty dose of humor at the beginning of the show. The couple Amy and Paul are played by Kate Wetherhead and John Caliendo. These two actors play well off each other and have a vibrant chemistry on stage. Paul is sweet and caring and Amy is slightly neurotic. However, they play their roles realistically, which provides great comedic entertainment for the audience. Lastly, I want to mention, Chelsea Emma Franko who plays one of Robert's girlfriends, Marta who is a free spirit. Her song, "Another Hundred People," is strong and one of the best vocals in the show.
COMPANY runs at Bucks County Playhouse through June 21, 2015. For more information and tickets visit their website at www.bcptheater.org or call the box office at (215) 862-2121.
Photos credit: Mandee Kuenzle