Tuesday, September 29, 2015

theatre review - COMPANY - Arizona State University / Lyric Opera Theatre - September 27, 2015

the cast of Company
photo: ASU/LOT

Click here for more information on this production that runs through October 4th.

"Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's Company took Broadway by storm in 1970, winning seven Tony Awards and changing forever the look and feel of musicals. ...the combination of one of Sondheim's best scores and Furth's comical and even poignant vignettes tells a funny and ultimately moving story of a man reassessing his life. Arizona State University's Lyric Opera Theatre opens their 2015 season with a sensational production of this ground-breaking musical...Company is composed of a series of short scenes, all set around 35-year-old Robert, who is afraid to get married. Surrounded by his best friends, a group of five married couples and three of the women he's dated, Robert takes a hard look at his relationships and lack of emotional commitments.  Yatso's production is smart and sharp, with a multi-level set that is used, for the most part, quite effectively throughout. While the college aged cast might not have the life experience of the characters they are portraying, and they may miss a few of the stingy humorous jabs in their delivery of the comical lines in Furth's book or the nuance of every intricate Sondheim lyric, they effectively form realistic married couples and a tight knit group of friends, wrinkles and all. They also do an exceptional job of delivering Sondheim's songs, with some of the best voices and harmonies you're likely to hear in the Valley.  As Robert, Alex Kunz is very good....His voice is clear and crisp, delivering beautiful versions of Robert's two big soaring ballads, "Marry Me a Little" and "Being Alive"...The female characters have the best scenes and songs and Yatso has found a good group of student actresses to bring these women vibrantly to life. The ones with the best material include Emilie Doering as the aloof, wealthy and sophisticated, yet somewhat isolated and vulnerable, Joanne, with Doering delivering a knock out version of "The Ladies Who Lunch," full of stinging cynicism; and Jennie Rhiner as the motherly and hilarious Sarah. Rhiner doesn't miss a beat in effectively delivering every one of her comic moments with relish and brings a deep sense of warmth and caring to the part. Also, Megan Moylan is a hoot as the fearful bride Amy, and Chelsea Chimilar is hilariously deadpan as the very dumb April...Sondheim's score has several numbers with overlapping lyrics, and the combination of Yatso's direction and Brian DeMaris' musical direction, with the outstanding vocal abilities of the cast, makes the end result appear almost effortless. The orchestra, made up entirely of students, is sensational, delivering a lush, clean and full sound that makes the songs soar. The orchestra alone is reason to see this production; it is exceptional. ...Even though it is set solidly in the 1970s, Company is still as effective today as when it first premiered 45 years ago. With Sondheim's sophisticated, witty, and comical score and Furth's funny and moving dialogue, this analysis of marriage, relationships, and the importance of "company" is a classic of musical theatre, and ASU/LOT's production is exceptional."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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