Update Due to popular demand they’ve extended the run of the screening so if you’re still interested go to www.companyonscreen.com to see if it’s still playing in your area.
So despite a crazy schedule last week I did manage to get out and see this in the theater braving a veritable monsoon do so but it was worth the trip. This was a screening of the Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” sung in concert with the NY Philharmonic Orchestra. These types of concert events happen semi-regularly but I almost never get to see them because they’re inevitable on a Monday or Tuesday night. The cast assembled for the show was what I would consider a heavy-weight championship class of performers; it’s the kind of cast you couldn’t afford to assemble for a full run of the show, probably not even a 12 week limited engagement. The salaries will break the bank. Along with some Broadway veterans they sprinkled in a smattering of more commonly recognizable actors, by which I mean TV actors.
To play the lead role of disaffected perennial bachelor Bobby is the always charming Mr. Neil Patrick Harris, he’s long been on my list of actors I would love to see on stage but I think I’m going to have to find a way to shut down “How I Met Your Mother” before that’s going to happen. But I have an idea or two. We’ll list off the rest of the cast in order of names you’ll recognize then names I recognize and then names. Names with an * are people I’ve actually seen on stage. Stephen Colbert, Jon Cryer, Christina Hendricks (Mad Men anyone?), Martha Plimpton*, Patti Lupon*, Aaron Lazar*, Anika Noni Rose*, Jill Paice*, Katie Finneran*, Craig Bierko*, Jennifer Laura Thompson, Jim Walton and Chryssie Whitehead. The conductor was Paul Gemignani* who is a very well-known and respected Broadway conductor.
The entire cast worked really well together, this is especially impressive considering that they, due to the myriad of conflicting schedules, didn’t get to rehearse together as a complete cast until shortly before the show. They had to use ensemble members to fill during rehearsal sessions. For the veteran performers that’s not a big deal but for some of the cast they could have benefited from more rehearsal time. Or it might have been better if they had done it more as a straight concert and left out the choreography, they really didn’t need it and I found the rolling love seat choreography more annoying than not.
NPH was really good but I still prefer Raul Esparza’s Bobby from the revival a few years back. NPH’s Bobby seemed a little more fragile and didn’t quite have the same sardonic edge that was in Mr. Esparza’s rendition. Stephen Colbert did just fine, he doesn’t have a bad singing voice, and they wisely didn’t try and push the envelope. I thought it was great that he took time out from his character as an up-tight white guy with delusions of knowing everything to play an up-tight white guy with delusions of knowing everything. Jon Cryer was a nice surprise and he has a pretty decent voice. Patti Lupon is aptly cast as the jaded Joann, but I thought she overplayed it, “Ladies Who Lunch” is supposed to be sharply sarcastic, not loudly so. For me the best part was Katie Finneran as Amy, the bride who gets cold feet on her wedding day. She has great comedic timing and rhythm and it was a laugh out loud funny funny scene. I also have to give some love to Ms. Anika Noni Rose who stole the show with her rendition of “Another Hundred People”.
The concert is presented in HD and the director/editor whoever fell into the “Lets show everything in close-up” filming mode. Pull back and let us see the stage. What’s the point of the HD unless you can pull out and still see the details. Between the close-ups and the HD I had to deal with my OCD urge to straighten NPH’s shirt collar. They went with the double unbutton and you know how one side of the collar always collapses and then it starts to migrate under the lapel of the jacket. They really should have given that shirt a good starching. Someone should also tell Ms. Lupon that HD is not her friend, at least not in that lighting. And Ms. Hendricks’ slip was peeking out from under her skirt when she sat, granted not as much as when she took her clothes off in the second act but still distracting. Mr. Bierko’s hair bugged me to no end and did we really need to see Aaron Lazars nipples? (well okay maybe we did) These are not things I should be noticing. I love the trend of filming these productions for future screenings but they need to get better directors and editors. They could ask me, but I doubt that’s going to happen. Yes, I’m entirely unqualified to do the job but I could consult; I rather excel at telling people what they’re doing wrong, or so my family tells me.
Anyway, clips for you amusement.
In Rehearsal w/ Stephen Colbert
Side by Side by Side – Concert Excerpt
Side by Side by Side from the Tony Awards – Complete Number