Geva’s uneven but entertaining new version of Stephen Sondheim’s much-revived Company perhaps unintentionally demonstrates how often Sondheim’s dramatically unified and thematically conceived musicals nonetheless often play like revues. Because Sondheim provides so many individually varied showpieces for different members of their casts, his shows often find their highlights in numbers by supporting performers. Company shows us Robert, a Manhattan bachelor, meeting with his friends, six couples who want to give him a surprise party for his 35th birthday, and a date he takes to bed. So, obviously that’s a set-up for a dozen singer-dancers to shine individually.
In the several splendid casts I’ve seen perform this very appealing show, five of the fourteen musical numbers usually get great applause. (This version adds "Marry Me a Little" and omits a dance number, so it’s still 14.) This Company rivaled the best in two numbers and the delightful playing of the scenes surrounding them. Kristen Mengelkoch, who gave spirited comic performances at Geva in two previous shows, played the nervous bride, charmingly supported by Ben Roseberry and Jim Poulos, and she stopped the show with her “I’m Not Getting Married Today,” sung with dazzling diction faster than anyone I’ve heard try it, except Vienne Cox.
New to Geva, Anne Allgood, a Broadway and Seattle star, played the drunken diva to Jeff Williams’ lovingly accommodating older, rich lover and got an ovation for her impressively sung, cynical toast to “The Ladies Who Lunch.”
As Bobby, Jim Poulos, a Geva favorite from several previous productions and scheduled to return next season, demonstrated his usual male ingénue charm, not unlike Matthew Broderick’s. But he really hasn’t the vocal chops for the thrilling climactic solo, “Being Alive,” and had to make it work as a dramatic expression of frustration.
Similarly, instead of the usual, sexy scene with the airline stewardess, Poulos underplayed it to build to the comic conclusion when Bobby asks whether she must fly to Barcelona the next morning and is daunted to hear that she will stay.
Don Kott had the small orchestra and singers do some justice to the score. G. W. Mercier’s set only once in a night scene with brilliant lighting by Joel Moritz suggested the glamour of New York usually seen in this show. Most of the dark set of boxes and stairs looked like the docks.
The cast seemed to move well, but none of Mark Cuddy’s and Meggins Kelley’s musical staging and choreography could be described as sharp dancing. I don’t remember the name of the choreographer Cuddy brought in to make his staging of Urinetown so wonderfully witty; but I remember that original Broadway cast-members auditioned and couldn’t cut its demands; and I wish he’d bring her back.