In The 'Company' of Sondheim
The Sondheim season is upon us, and Upstart makes its own claim to the season with their production of ‘Company,’ which opens on the 13th of September
Theater company Upstart, is making its own contribution to the current theater season of Sondheim riches. At the Maybank Performing Arts Theatre, their production of Company unfurls this September 13, and it promises to be the more contemporary of Sondheim musicals we will be treated to. If the other two Sondheim’s are period pieces—Passion and Sweeney Todd—Company is funnily enough, the earliest of his works among the three. Company dates back to 1970, and it’s one of his first collaborations with director Hal Prince, and the Broadway production won Tonys for Best Musical, Best Music, and Best Lyrics.
A concept musical, Company doesn’t really have a straightforward plot, and revolves more around a set of characters and themes. It takes in adult themes and relationships. In 1970, theater was often seen as an escape, so what Company did, was throw back in the faces of the audience their real lives. For the time, that was unheard of in theater, and was considered revolutionary—theater as a slice of social realism, a mirror held up to the audience.
Linked by the celebration of Robert’s 35th birthday, Company is made up of a string of vignettes that highlight relationships, friendships, notions of family, and dating. Robert is a well-liked single man living in Manhattan, and five couples, either married or engaged, throw this birthday party in his honor. There are also three girls that Robert is currently dating, lacking the resolve to make any kind of commitment. Flitting back and forth in time, we examine the truth that lies behind this dating, the marriages and engagements—and while the situations and circumstances set to song and music will regale us through laughter, the laughter can also be uneasy, as the intent is that we’ll see ourselves in any one of the characters portrayed.
Topper Fabregas directs, and they’re performing this in the round, to make it that more of an immersive experience. OJ Mariano will take on the central role of Robert, while the likes of Menchu Lauchengco and Michael Williams are back performing in this musical. Sweet Plantado-Tiongson, Jill Pena, Caissa Borromeo, Joel Trinidad, and a host of other singer/actors make up the formidable cast. Roni Fortich handles the musical direction, and Marlon Rivera is part of the production team.
It’s not for me to compare the three Sondheim musicals that are being staged in September and October. Each one brings something very unique to the stage, and they all add to the portrait of Stephen Joshua Sondheim as living genius. His contributions to contemporary musical theater can never be underestimated. And if you’re looking for the one that’s about modern life, is a comedy, and with a far more playful a premise—Company is the ticket!
Company will run from September 13 to 22 at the Maybank Performing Arts Theater. Tickets are available for purchase via Ticketworld.