Part 4 in a 100-part Series of "Broadway Shows Maryann Will Never Forgive Herself for Not Seeing"


Ok, I can't lie to you. I've actually seen Company. But in my defense, I saw it at our local theater in Lake Oswego starring our high school drama teacher Gary Cash along with local celebrities. If these facts weren't enough to keep me from connecting with the show, I was also a teenager. What musicals-loving teen wants to hear songs about how hard it is to be married and an adult living in the suburbs? Not really where I was in life. No, I was a bit more into the I-am-an-awkward-and-unglamorous-but-endlessly-talented-woman-who-only-wants-to-be-loved-and-maybe-famous plotline.

Being the one single person among lots of couples? The hardships of marriage and commitment? No thanks. But now when I hear the score, I begin to understand the genius of the lyrics and music. So why list a musical I've seen in a series reserved for musicals I haven't seen? I guess I wish I'd seen the original cast (even though that would require me being at least 38) , as well as seen it when I was older and could appreciate it a little more. It's no longer running, but maybe someday another amateur production will be put on, or it will be revived again (it was revived in 1995 and 2006). But the original cast and production has that special lure for me: the one-of-a-kind Elaine Stritch.

Alright, if you're still with me, let's get into it. First off, you can read all about it here. My version will be a bit more brief. Robert is the beloved single friend of 5 married couples. He's turning 35 and the pressure is on. In his friends he sees the ups and downs of marriage, and they go back and forth urging him to settle down or not (the husbands at one point try to persuade him to stay single so he can still sleep around and have no ball & chain; the women worry about his well-being as a lonely single person). There are three different girlfriends of his that we meet, all flawed and none quite right for him. Throughout the large ensemble cast many different kinds of people are represented: cynics, bitches, neurotics, Lotharios, etc. It's all about 'living in community', the differences between strangers and lovers and friends and one night stands; navigating this life and its relationships.

The original 1970 Broadway Hal Prince production as well as the 1995 and 2006 revivals were nominated for a total of 17 Tony's, winning 7 (6 for the original, 1 for 2006). Now let's get to the good stuff: the songs. The music and lyrics are all by Stephen Sondheim and are some of the best showtunes ever written. The better known ones might be "Ladies Who Lunch", "The Little Things You Do Together", and "Being Alive." Those are three of my favorites, but right now I can't stop listening to "Another Hundred People" and "Marry Me A Little", a song cut from the original, added to the revivals, and the inspiration for a completely separate musical by the same name.

Almost all the songs are memorable and instantly addictive: "Company", "Barcelona", "Getting Married Today", "Someone is Waiting", "You Could Drive A Person Crazy", and "Sorry-Grateful." As usual with Sondheim, the lyrics are often a mouthful and at erratic or difficult tempos. If you can, catch the documentary made of the recording for the cast album. Your heart literally breaks for Elaine Stritch's attempts to do a good take of "Ladies Who Lunch" at three in the morning after a whole day of recording.

All in all, I can't wait to see it (again)!


Anonymous said...

"the postered walls. . .", not "upholstered walls. . ."

Maryann said...

That does make more sense. I thought for sure I'd be safe using the lyrics from Thanks!