Stephen Sondheim’s Company is a real gem of a musical. It’s got beautiful music, ingenious lyrics, wonderful character development, and witty one-liners, all topped off with emotional depth.
It’s an ambitious project for an amateur company to tackle, but Ignations Musical Society have done it with aplomb.
It is Bobby’s 35th birthday, and his friends (five married couples in need of validation of their own life choices) want to know why he hasn’t settled down. Essentially, it’s an unsentimental comment on the social pressures on us to tick the boxes at the right time: graduate, get the job, get married, buy the house, have the kid(s)- and the various reasons people have for entering into and staying in marriages.
As the pivotal character, Bobby’s casting can make or break this show. Bradley McCaw with his strong voice, comic timing and balance of charisma and humbleness was an excellent choice. I instantly invested in his character’s journey. In fact, all the casting was spot on. Special mentions must go to Lisa Marie Gargoine for her performance as Amy, the nervous bride-to-be and to Susan Stenlake who played a majestic, deliciously cynical Joanne.
Catarina Hebbard’s staging made the multiple scene transitions seamless and kept the momentum going throughout the production. Dan Venz’s choreography was generally spot-on, highlighting the comedy or the relationships in each scene. The only slight hiccup was the sensual dance performed Aurelie Roque (Kathy). The execution was beautiful, but having such a dance while a sex scene was ostensibly happening in the background was extremely odd. Surely time for a pas de deux instead?
Musical director, Luke Volker, made the complex music seem effortless. As for the design; walking into La Boite and seeing the whole theatre decorated with happy birthday banners and balloons was a nice touch. The simple set, consisting of several grey movable benches with a backdrop curtain of shiny streamers, worked.
The music and characters are complex, so an uncomplicated set can serve as an elegant juxtaposition. However, Jason Glenwright’s lighting let this production down. There were a handful of lighting states that were nice, but in general the switches between lighting states were too harsh and sterile (making the predominantly grey set look very bland) and so weak that I found myself peering through the dark to see the fabulous performances. Lighting should enhance a show, set the mood, rather than be a distraction. I did double check at interval to make sure there hadn’t been a technical malfunction – there hadn’t.
But don’t let that put you off on seeing the show. Company has seldom been performed in Brisbane, and it really is a very engaging production. Company will be playing at the Roundhouse Theatre in Kelvin Grove until July 5.