Musicals are a little like tattoos or retro clothing choices. If they are done badly, they are cheesy and awkward, but done well, they are stunning. The Aurora Fox Center hits it home with their rendition of Company, the famed musical penned by Stephen Sondheim.
Although the show is always booked as a musical comedy, anyone with a deeper understanding of life and relationships will quickly recognized that the show is about more than just laughs. It focuses on the story of Robert, or Bobby, who is a bit of a Jerry Seinfeld type. Although his friends are all happily (or unhappily) married, he stays single and entertains woman after woman, none of whom are quite right to settle down with. However, instead of hamming it up, the show focuses on the deeper reasons why people do or do not choose to enter into or maintain relationships, as well as why people find the idea of monogamy both alluring and repulsive.
Of course, since this is a Sondheim show, most of the story is developed through song. This is the point that makes or breaks a show, and the casting of this production definitely hits the nail on the head. Everyone in the show can really sing, especially Marta, played by Lindsey Falduto. Although Marta is one of the more minor characters, another quirky love interest of Bobby’s who doesn’t stick around, her moments on stage shine so hard that the audience was practically giving a standing ovation any time she finished a song.
Again, this is a Sondheim show, so don’t be surprised that things don’t exactly happen the way you might think. Technically, the show is not a linear narrative, so be prepared to do a little thinking when it comes to who is who and what they represent. Also, the show is noteworthy for being pulled off with little to no props. All the characters ware black, and mostly just mime or used simplified versions of props to convey what is going on. While this should make it easier for lower budget theaters that don’t have a ton of money to spend on each production, it’s still pretty tricky to pull off all of the action and energy needed to make the play really engaging without any bells or whistles. The Aurora Fox managed to have everyone mesmerized, even when the cake for Bobby’s birthday was invisible and the presents were nonexistent.
If an introspective yet funny musical about a man who can’t grow up sounds appealing to you, then make plans for the weekend now, because Company only runs through October 22.