Review of Company at the Fox Theatre

    Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim based the musical Company on five disparate plays by librettist George Firth. Sondheim said Company takes the form of a revue with a book. In Company, protagonist Bobby visits each of his five sets of married friends and each of his three girlfriends. Each visit is a separate sketch, held together by Bobby and his quest to see if marriage is for him. 

    For me, the best part of Company is the revue, an evening of Sondheim songs. I have always thought that Barcelona is such a melodious name that it deserved a song of its own. Now it has one, like Kalamazoo. And “I’m not getting married” is another jewel. I have never felt that the book successfully pulled it all together. 

    Firth is a good playwright, and the scenes and their dialogue are enjoyable. But I want the show to be more of a whole, with more weight to it.

    Now at the Fox we have the new and revised Company. Instead of Bobby, we have Bobbie. Bobby can’t decide if marriage is for him. Bobbie wants to get married. Bobbie is a woman, and her biological clock is ticking, as the digital “35” balloons hanging on the wall of her apartment for the celebration of her 35th birthday keep reminding us – and her.

    So we repeat the scenes with her married friends or with the friends who might marry her. And the scenes do have more at stake for Bobbie than for Bobby.

    The production at the Fox, with the female lead, was developed for a London revival directed by the brilliant British director Marianne Elliott, who worked closely with Sondheim in revising it. Bunny Christie’s set provided New York apartment interiors and exteriors that slid from side to side to move quickly through the dwellings of Bobbie and her friends.

    We don’t often see an understudy in the leading role in an Equity production at the Fox, but we did at opening night this time. Her name was Beth Stafford Laird, and she was terrific.

    —Bob Wilcox

    Photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade
    The ensemble of
    Company celebrates Bobbie’s 35th birthday.