“Phone rings, door chimes, in comes company!” says Bobby’s good and crazy married friends. Thus marks Bobby’s 35th birthday, another year of bachelorhood and loneliness in the bustling yet paradoxically secluding New York City.
The Stephen Sondheim musical comedy that swept the Tony Awards in 1971, “Company” is directed by Joshua Toro ’18 and produced by Ryan Seffinger ’19 at the Whitney Theater. Spanning two years, from Bobby’s 35th through 37th birthdays, the musical is propelled by Bobby’s wacky and amusing married friends. Through interactions with them and the last three women he hopes to marry, Bobby, played by Lance Chantiles-Wertz ’19, struggles with his conflicting desire to take care of someone and his painstaking fear of commitment. While his married friends are willing to suppress addiction, look past each other’s flaws, and use marriage to fulfill their purposes, Bobby cannot commit himself to such sacrifice nor can he understand the point of marriage. “What do you get from marriage? What do you get from it?” he screams.
“Company” touches on the themes of solitude, romance and age. As Joanne, an older, more cynical character, remarks, “We find ourselves at the age when we are too young for the old people and too old for the young people.” Bobby explores his own beliefs about solitude and whether such loneliness is depressing or peaceful.
Chantiles-Wertz took on the role of Bobby with suave and charm, leaving just enough room for solitude. When Bobby occasionally flirts with his married female friends, Chantiles-Wertz conveys a sense of desperation masked by confidence. His wonderful acting is complemented by his equally capable singing. Sondheim, famous for wide vocal ranges and challenging vocal parts, holds nothing back in “Company,” and Chantiles-Wertz still flourishes despite the demanding musical score.
Yet, the heart of the show lies in the antics of the ensemble. Through their marital doubts, faults, trials and jubilations, the happy couples and the composed romantic interests propel the show’s plot and lighten the reclusive mood of Bobby. Jared Andrew Michaud ’19 particularly stood out with brilliant vocals while Charlie Hill ’18 and Angela Barel di Sant’Albano ’20 each brought down the house with their comedic performances.
In particular, Samantha White ’21 gave an energetic, well-rounded performance, in which she excelled comedically and vocally. She performed one of the most difficult songs in the musical, “Another Hundred People,” while also delivering an entertaining acting performance. White played the role of Marta — the spunky, angsty romantic interest, who claims herself to be “the soul of New York.” Her performance embodied this self-proclaimed title.
The singular issue with the performance relates to the venue itself: the curtains that lead backstage line up against the wall, resulting in entrance and exit complications. Actors were occasionally found feeling against the wall, attempting to find the spaces through which they could leave the stage.
Regardless, the set, costume design and general directing were fabulous and consistent. Bobby’s apartment, in which most of the musical takes place, perfectly resembles metropolitan high-life: The furniture was almost entirely gray- or earth-toned. The costume design matched this pattern, as all performers were dressed in plain gray, white and black costumes. Toro must be lauded for maintaining such consistency throughout each sector of the show and brilliantly linking these costume and set choices to the themes of the play.
The show runs from March 1 through March 3 at the Whitney Theater on 53 Wall St. Unless you’re in Timothy Dwight or Silliman colleges, that may seem like a trek. However, if you’re willing to trade mild exercise for a night full of laughter, introspection and the music of a Broadway deity, “Company” is the show for you.
Nick Tabio | firstname.lastname@example.org