"Company," the 1970 work by Stephen Sondheim, Hal Prince and George Furth, is the latest musical to receive a semi-concert staging with the New York Philharmonic. The non-linear piece features one of Sondheim's strongest scores, and is deftly directed by Lonny Price, under the sure conducting of longtime Sondheim musical director, Paul Gemignani. The four sold-out evenings were originally filmed for theatrical distribution, and is now being released on DVD and Blu-ray™ by Image Entertainment as one star-studded night.
The "story," if you can use that term with "Company," is the tale of a 35-year-old bachelor named Bobby, and the world he lives in, the women he lives with, and the relationship he aspires to have. Neil Patrick Harris arrived four days before the opening (in between tapings of "How I Met Your Mother") from the left coast, and aptly embodies Bobby. His demeanor and presence perfectly displays the single man's life, especially in comparison to his married friends and his girlfriends.
The supporting cast is strong. Only a brief run, with a production team willing to go to the cast during their other projects in order to rehearse, could attract talents of this caliber. Stephen Colbert and Jon Cryer (as Harry and David, respectively), Patti Lupone (whose Joanne predictably stops the show with "Ladies Who Lunch"), Jennifer Laura Thompson (Jenny), Katie Finneran (as the neurotic Amy), Martha Plimpton (Sarah), Craig Bierko (Peter), Anika Nani Rose (Marta), and Christina Hendricks (April) are just half of the group that enthralled the audience on these evenings.
Vocal highlights (in addition to Lupone's eleven-o-clock number) include Rose's heartfelt "Another Hundred People," Hendricks' display of innocent sexuality in "Barcelona," Finneran's nailing of "Getting Married Today" and Harris' culminating realization of Bobby's awakening, "Being Alive."
Add "Company" to the successful canon of Sondheim's works presented with the Philharmonic, in addition to "Sweeney Todd" and "Passion." May there be more.
Stephen Sondheim / George Furth
DVD (SRP $24.98) and Blu-ray™ (SRP $29.98) formats