Friday, June 10, 2011
Phone Rings, Door Chimes, in Comes "Company"
It seemed like a great idea for the New York Philharmonic to put together an all-star concert version of Stephen Sondheim's "Company" last April. The only downside was that there was only one performance!
But, in what seems to be a trend, the Philharmonic filmed that concert and is now releasing it to movie theaters across the country, sharing the joy with all the rest of us in the hinterlands who couldn't get to New York to see it. I have been keeping an eye on the Philharmonic website to check for dates and times near me, and I am happy to say that, yes, "Company" is coming to Bloomington-Normal. And Champaign, Peoria, Hickory Point Mall near Decatur, and a whole lot of other choices.
Here in Bloomington, "Company" will be showing exactly once, on Wednesday, June 15, at 7 pm, at the Bloomington Galaxy 14 Cine. You can buy tickets now if you want to ensure you get a spot.
As George Furth's book plays out, "Company" paints a picture of Bobby, a 35-year-old bachelor whose entire circle of friends is dominated by married couples. On the eve of his birthday, Bobby thinks about where he is in his life, taking a look at all those friends as well as the women he has most recently been involved with, as he ponders what it means to share your life with someone instead of going it alone. Is he better off the way he is? Should he have settled down with Kathy or Marta or April when he had the chance? And who among them is actually happy? When he looks at battling spouses Harry and Sarah, jaded Joanne and Larry, and about-to-be-married Amy who is experiencing the coldest of cold feet, why would Bobby want to be married, too?
All of that is intriguing enough, making "Company" stand apart as something a little different. But Sondheim's score also features songs like the searing "Ladies Who Lunch," Amy's hilarious "Not Getting Married," an energetic anthem about New York City called "Another Hundred People," and the soaring, amazing "Being Alive," that seems to put right out there the yearning and fear and joy of bonding with someone else.
For the New York Philharmonic, Neil Patrick Harris, who will be hosting the Tony Awards this weekend, played Bobby, the infuriating, adorable guy everybody wants to be around. Elsewhere in the cast, faux-pundit Stephen Colbert matched up with Martha Plimpton as Harry and Sarah, the couple who do so many "little things" together, including karate and squabbling; Craig Bierko and Jill Paice played Peter and Susan, who seem like the perfect couple, except for the small fact of that looming divorce; Jennifer Laura Thompson and Jon Cryer took on pot-smoking, not-all-that-hip Jenny and David; Katie Finneran paired with Aaron Lazar as Amy and Paul, who may or may not go through with their wedding; and Broadway force of nature Patti LuPone took Jim Walton along for the Joanne and Larry "older but not wiser" experience. Christina Hendricks (of "Mad Men" fame), Chryssie Whitehead and Anika Noni Rose played the three women Bobby considers as romantic partners.
That's a pretty powerful cast, with at least five Tony Awards, seven Emmys, and four or five Grammys among them. Plus they're all appealing, fun performers who seem to have jumped in and performed the heck out of "Company," if the trailer for this filmed version is any indication.
So I say go, as many times as you can, to every theater that's anywhere near you. I think I may be able to work in an extra screening or two, considering Champaign has more showings than Bloomington...