I was finally able to see the Lincoln Center production of Stephen Sondheim’s Company, not live as I had hoped, but on the big screen. My love for Sondheim runs deep– I may have mentioned the many acts of crazy I’ve gone through to see his work. I claim that Company is my favorite musical of all time but I had, uh, never actually seen it (oh the irony).
I’ve listened to the original cast recording on repeat and watched a wonderful documentary which records the recording of the cast recording, which is ‘so totally meta’ (long side note: an old film professor’s favorite term, but picture it being said in a thick German accent while watching something like Melvin Van Peeble’s ‘Sweet Sweetback’s Baaadasssss Song’– no really, it’s a movie…it exists…now picture me counting three A’s and five S’s to get the title right in this blog post…)
The documentary (which I recommend) features a young Stephen Sondheim smoking cigarettes in the booth at the studio, advising the actors in between coughs and takes. And all of this, made me feel as if I had seen the musical when I really hadn’t.
What I love about Company is the way it captures relationships, the confusion and complexity, through incredible music and lyrics. It’s not about the set or the stage. It is about Bobby, the only single man in a group of married friends, and his desperation to find a wife…without actually having to fall in love.
We meet those ‘good and crazy people, his married friends’ as they navigate confused feelings about their own relationships. How they lose themselves and find themselves through one another. How, when we fall in love, ‘everything’s different’ but ‘nothing’s changed’ or ‘only maybe slightly rearranged’. There is fear of being loved too much or not enough. And the idea that sometimes we get on our hands and knees to beg for someone to stay and, when they do, all we want is for them to leave (the same in reverse). These kinds of dynamics are so compelling, so real, I love to see it captured on stage and in song.
It goes without saying that I recommend the musical highly. The cast is what I can only call an ‘uber cast’ with the likes of Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Colbert, Patti Lupone, Martha Plimpton…the list goes on. Even if you don’t like musicals, there are long scenes of excellent dialogue, more so than in most musicals, I would say. But it is, in my opinion, the lyrics to the songs that make this musical so brilliant.
You do not have to pay hundreds of dollars or go to a major city to see it because it is playing at movie theaters across the country for a very limited time. So, go! Quickly! Run don’t walk! And tell me what you think if you do…
Photo credit: zimbio.com