“It’s the little things you do together, that make perfect relationships,” sings Alexis Shusterman ’13 as the jaded and boozy Joanne, and though she’s crooning sarcastically about the creeping and crippling frustrations of marriage, she might as well be referring to the fascinating relationships among the characters in PW’s production of Company premiering tonight in the Downspace.
Relationships stand at the center of this swanky metropolitan 1970s musical, and the care with which each actor has taken in crafting his/her character and creating the unique and captivating relationships with every member of the cast pulls the audience in from the moment the lights go up.
With brides conflicted about an impending wedding, housewives contemplating the philosophy of marriage while smoking pot, flight attendents grappling with one-night stands, or a young man facing a life of perpetual bachelor-dom, Company is jam-packed with complex mature relationships expertly acted by the ensemble cast.
For a show as age-specific as Company (the production centers around Bobby, a man in his mid-thirties, and the social circles he surrounds himself with), one is never left feeling like the actors are too young or inexperienced to be singing about divorce, the secrets to a happy marriage, or balancing multiple affairs. In fact, it makes it all the more interesting to see these more mature subjects interpreted by our college-aged peers.
Bobby, who is played by Jesse Weil ’16, stands at the center of a shifting cavalcade of couples and girlfriends, each one offering their own two cents on relationships, love, and life to their third-wheel friend. Weil conveys the simultaneous loneliness and swagger that comes with the single life, and his presence throughout the show anchors the ensemble in a contemplative and strikingly reserved performance.
The musical takes place over the course of a series of vignettes highlighting the different couples and girlfriends in Bobby’s life. Standout numbers include “Getting Married Today” in which Amy, played by Anna-Kate Kingston ’15, articulates more words in fewer seconds than I think I’ve ever heard, “Another Hundred People,” when Marta, played by Christina Ames ’15, wistfully imagines the infinite possibilities of New York City, and the show-stopping “The Ladies Who Lunch” sung by Shusterman as a sardonic toast to high society and all the BS that comes with it.
The orchestra, led by musical director Brook Camarda ’13, beautifully accompanies each number. (Side note: this was by far the best job I’ve ever seen PW do at balancing instrument and vocal audio levels, so if you’re a fan of hearing the lyrics of songs, this is the show for you).
Each couple sits around the space with the audience, watching Bobby make his way through life, adding to a voyeuristic and claustrophobic nature that makes each audience member feel like they’ve been transported to a bachelor pad in New York City in the ’70s.
The show’s finale “Being Alive” features Bobby coming to realizations about what makes life worth living, and it is an apt way to sum up the show’s main themes; for as intimate and specific as they are, Company boils down to what it means to be alive and who you choose to share your life with, and as deep and off-puttingly philosophical as this may sound, Rachel Borders ’13 and her cast do a hell of an entertaining job of putting on this brilliant show.
For ticketing and other logistical information, czech out the Facebook event.