With virtually no plot and only one central question: “Should Bobby get married?” COMPANY is the Dear Abby of musicals. In fact George Furth and Stephen Sondheim pioneered the fragmented, nonlinear, non-story driven musical so popular with today’s composers.
The Moonbox production of COMPANY (playing through March 1st) has some knockout numbers but unfortunately the Roberts Theatre’s sound system bedeviled the show straight through on the night I attended. COMPANY always opens with funny messages left on Bobby’s phone machine but we could hardly make them out they were so garbled.
Then the pesky amplifiers (IF only they hadn’t used mics) crackled and worst, distorted the quality of the voices so that everyone seemed nasal from where I sat on the right. (It wreaked havoc with the balance between orchestra and singers, too, and alas, the orchestra drowned out some dialogue and more importantly, some of the lyrics, even with the strong singers.) Maybe it wasn’t a problem in other sections of the audience.
Now I have a big question for Dear Abby: Why was the orchestra on stage (a great idea) but facing the left wall and not us? From where I sat all I could see were their backs and a little of their sides. (Abby is probably going to say it’s the only way they fit on stage but it just looked so wrong.)
Here’s what was right with director Allison Olivia Choat’s production: Some crackerjack performances and delicious choreography from Rachel Bertone. The vaudeville “circus” number (What Would We Do Without You), with ambivalent Bobby (a cheeky David Carney) wonderfully out of sync with his married friends, simply brought down the house.
Shonna Cirone’s sensational freak out with Peter Mill in her Not Getting Married Today (with hilarious operatics from Teresa Winner Blume) hit the spot and Katie Clark as the airline stewardess scored with Barcelona. Lisa Dempsey whirled like a dervish in her erotic dance solo—and Dan Rodriguez’ orchestra sounded great all by itself. In short, the parts were better than the whole in this endeavor and I’m Sorry/Grateful, to quote the song: Sorry I have to say that but grateful, nevertheless, that I saw the show.