BWW Reviews: COMPANY at the Signature Theatre is Just Plain Brilliant

COMPANY-20010101

The Signature Theatre lobby gift shop has a t-shirt for sale that says only "Phone rings, Door Chimes". For those who love theatre and Stephen Sondheim in particular, will have no problem discerning that the quote comes from his 1970 hit musical COMPANY. It's a musical about marriage and my wife Lisa and I saw it for the first time on our honeymoon in Miami in 1971. What a show for a honeymoon! But we loved it then and love it even more now.

Director Eric Schaeffer and the Signature Theatre usually does at least one Sondheim musical a year (this is Schaeffer's 23rd Sondheim musical) and this one does not disappoint. If you have seen COMPANY before, you must see this version which I believe is the very best production I have ever seen (and I've seen many) and I believe could move directly into a Broadway house. If you have never seen COMPANY, now is your chance to see this terrific production.

When you walk into the MAX Theatre, you are struck by the wonderful chrome and plexiglas set by Daniel Conway which features five rear video panels used for photographic projections (by Rocco Disanti) used for scenes of New York, photos of the cast, and at the end, even photos of the orchestra (what a great idea).

Frank Labovitz's costumes are appropriate for the '70s and all in grey. There is exquisite lighting by Chris Lee.

Music Director Jon Kalbfleisch once again leads a spectacular 9 piece orchestra utilizing the Jonathan Tunick orchestrations from the 1995 version (which streamlined the original Broadway orchestrations for 25 pieces down to nine). During the show I had wished the orchestra had utilized an acoustic bass versus an electric bass (beautifully played by Chris Chlumsky). After the performance I asked Kalbfleisch about this and he commented there just wasn't enough space to have both an electric and acoustic bass. This certainly is a pet peeve of mine.

Now to the cast. Returning to the Signature stage playing the leading role of Robert Is Matthew Scott who has extensive experience on Broadway. He reminded me a little of Jerry Seinfeld (not that there is anything wrong with that). Scott nails his character and his voice rings true with his various solos such as "Being Alive" and "Marry Me a Little ( added by Sondheim in the 1995 Roundabout Theatre production). His smile is infectious.

Playing the roles of Robert's three girl friends (and they are all marvleous) are Carolyn Cole (Marta), Madeline Botteri (April) and Jamie Eacker (Kathy). They shine together in the vaudville number "You Could Drive a Person Crazy". I just loved Botteri's "Barcelona", Cole's "Another Hundred People" (where for the first time I can hear each lyric), and enjoyed Eacker's dance solo in "Tick-Tock".

The remainder of the cast is made up of five married couples and they are all superb. There's Sarah and Harry (Tracy Lynn Olivea and Evan Casey), Susan and Peter (Sandy Bainum and Harve Lester, in for Bobby Smith), Jenny and David (Erin Driscoll and James Gardiner), Amy and Paul (Erin Weaver and Paul Scanlan), and Joanne and Larry (Sherri L. Edelen and Thomas Adrian Simpson).

The highlight for me though is Weaver's"Getting Married Today" which is the funniest version I have ever seen.

COMPANY continues until June 30, 2013. For tickets, call 703-573-7328 or visit www.signature-theatre.org.

Make plans for MISS SAIGON which is next at the Signature playing from August 15 to September 22, 2013.

cgshubow@broadwayworld.com.

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From This Author Charles Shubow

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