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Company at Signature Theatre

Jordan Wright
June 3, 2013
Special to The Alexandria Times

The cast of “Company” turns Manhattan into a dance floor as they sing “Side By Side By Side.”   Photo: Scott Suchman.

The cast of “Company” turns Manhattan into a dance floor as they sing “Side By Side By Side.”
Photo: Scott Suchman.

When the cast of Signature Theatre’s Company struts onstage in the musical’s first number, the thing to keep in mind is that three of the four onstage couples, Sherri L. Edelen as Joanne and Thomas Adrian Simpson as Larry; Tracy Lynn Olivera as Sarah and Evan Casey as Harry; Erin Driscoll as Jenny and James Gardiner as David are in fact real-life married couples.  Only Erin Weaver as Amy and Paul Scanlan as Paul are not.  Got that?  Knowing that underlying dynamic makes it all the more compelling to watch their interactions with each other.  Set in 1970’s Manhattan to the dawning of the sexual revolution, the reimagining of the meaning of marriage, and the requisite neuroses of the typical New Yorker, the musical is reminiscent of a Woody Allen movie set to music – fabulous, iconic, Stephen Sondheim music.

Perennial bachelor, Bobby, is a cad and a charmer, the type of guy who won’t commit to any girl.  But his married friends adore him.  He remembers their birthdays and brings them flowers when they are sick.  They reveal their innermost selves to him and he stays as neutral as Switzerland.  Light and breezy Bobby, the perennial observer, who stands on the sidelines and watches as the couples bicker or praise, need one another, yet feel trapped.  Marriage.  It’s complicated.  And for middle-aged Bobby, bed hopping is far less messy.

Joanne (Sherri L. Edelen; center) gets fired up to sing “The Ladies Who Lunch” while out on the town with Larry (Thomas Adrian Simpson; left) and Bobby (Matthew Scott; right). Photo: Scott Suchman.

Joanne (Sherri L. Edelen; center) gets fired up to sing “The Ladies Who Lunch” while out on the town with Larry (Thomas Adrian Simpson; left)
and Bobby (Matthew Scott; right). Photo: Scott Suchman.

When he queries the husbands about their marital satisfaction they explain the dichotomy of their lives with ” Sorry-Grateful”, a song that attempts to clarify both the loneliness and the comfort of marriage.  Given such conflicting advice Bobby hunkers down in his bachelor foxhole examining the paradoxes of modern relationships.  The wives sing about Bobby’s loneliness and trash his choice of women in “Poor Baby”, synching up with their husbands in the tune, “Have I Got a Girl For You”.

For more than four decades the music from Company has been sung in every city and cabaret from here to Timbuktu.  Memorable showstoppers like “The Ladies Who Lunch”, “Another Hundred People”, “Barcelona”, “Side By Side”, “Marry Me a Little” (a later addition) and “Getting Married Today” have become beloved classics.

The cast of “Company” serenades Bobby (Matthew Scott; center) as they sing “Side By Side By Side.”  Photo: Scott Suchman.

The cast of “Company” serenades Bobby (Matthew Scott; center) as they sing “Side By Side By Side.”
Photo: Scott Suchman.

Matthew Scott as Bobby is outstanding throughout, especially if you like Seth Meyers of Saturday Night Live whom he could double for in adorableness.  Notable too is the effervescent Erin Weaver recently off her starring roles in The Last Five Years and Xanadu, who tears off the roof with her rendition of  “Getting Married Today”.

Choreographer Matt Gardiner keeps the cast on their toes with snappy slick dance routines and a karate scene between Sarah and Harry that is outright hilarious.  (Oh, yes, there’s plenty of comedy amongst all that angst.)  Scenic Designer Daniel Conway employs a sleek three-tier stage bracketed by a grand staircase, sliding doors, a lofty apartment terrace and hydraulically controlled mid-century modern furnishings.

Producer Eric Shaeffer has put together a strong cast of powerful singers to showcase Sondheim’s musical and in turn give us a terrific show.

Through June 30th 2013 at Signature Theatre (Shirlington Village), 4200 Campbell Avenue, Arlington, VA 22206.  For tickets and information call 703 820-9771 or visit www.signature-theatre.org.

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