Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Moonbox Productions Presents a Stirring Production of Stephen Sondheim's "Company" at the Boston Center for the Arts.

I have come to  expect nothing short of the highest quality professional productions from Moonbox Productions , and they live up to their reputation with Stephen Sondheim's "Company" now being presented at Boston Center for the Arts through March 1st.  Along with "Sweeney Todd,"  "Company" is probably Sondheim's best known musical and most often performed.  Therefore, many audience members will inevitably compare this current version of the show with past productions they have seen.  Under the excellent Direction of Allison Olivia Choat, the Moonbox team has put together a "Company" that stands on its own and evokes comparisons with the best.  

The show is anchored by a terrific group of musicians, under the Musical Direction of the always outstanding Dan Rodriguez.  The band sits on the stage and provides an electricity and fast pace that keeps this show zipping along briskly.  The musicians are Rodriguez on piano, Katie O'Reilly - keyboard, Rusty Chandler- bass, Seth Botos - drums, Ray Taranto - reed, Thomas Carroll  -  reed, Allison Eaton - reed, Paul Perfetti - trumpet and Rick Copeland - trombone.

Rachel Bertone's Choreography has the cast filling every inch of the stage with vibrant movement.  The flexible and simple set designed by Dale Conklin gives this cast places to call home that feel just right for the tone of this piece.  The cast of five couples, three single woman and Bobby are universally excellent in their roles.  Their ensemble singing and dancing is of the highest order.  They are:

Dave Carney - Bobby
Leigh Barrett - Joanne
Rick Sherbourne - Larry
Daniel Forest Sullivan - David
Teresa Winner Blume - Jenny
Matthew Zahnzinger - Harry
Anne Colpitts - Sarah
Brain Bakefon - Peter
Catherine Lee Christie - Susan
Peter Mill - Paul
Shonna Cirone - Amy
Lisa Dempsey - Kathy
Katie Clark - April
Megan Alicia - Marta

Cast and Band
Moonbox Productions "Company"
Photo by Sharman Atlshuler

In a show that is a delight from top to bottom, several moments stand out in my memory.  Let me share a few of those moments:
  • The band - all the way through.  Audience members lingered to hear the last notes of the band's "postlude."
  • The trio of husbands - Harry, David and Larry- reminiscing about the pros and cons of married  life in "Sorry-Grateful" is beautifully staged and sung
  • The trio of Bobby's girlfriends - April, Kathy and Marta - singing about how frustrating Bobby's inability to commit is for each of them in the number "You Could Drive A Person Crazy"  Each of these three is a talented comedic actor and singer.
"You Could Drive A Person Crazy"
Marta, Kathy, April
Photo by Sharman Atlshuler
  • Bobby's soulful solo "Someone Is Waiting"
  • Marta's tribute to the hustle and bustle and loneliness of New York City in "Another Hundred People"
  • "Getting Married Today"!  Amy's frenetic rant about not being ready for marriage is a rapid-fire patter song.  Set off against this insanity is the ironic counterpoint of Jenny's operatic aria about the beauty of a wedding day.  The combined effect brought the house down.
  • The choreography and dancing of the entire cast in "Side by Side by Side"
  • April's ditsy flight attend character in Bobby's bed in "Barcelona" as Kathy dances in a stunning piece that shows the frustration of all of Bobby's girlfriends.
  • Joanne's biting and sardonic "The Ladies Who Lunch" also evoked the kind of appreciative audience response that it should as the "11 o'clock number" it was meant to be.  
  • "Being Alive" is Bobby's capstone anthem to the need to connect and to live.  It was well delivered and well received.
That is a lot of highlights for one show.  It speaks to good writing, good acting, good musicianship and craftsmanship, good storytelling and good theater.  If you go see this show, which I encourage you to do, you will be keeping "company" with other discerning lovers of musical theater who know a good thing when they see it.



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BOSTON, MA—Moonbox Productions presents COMPANY, Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning endearing musical about a modern man’s journey through friendship, dating, commitment and marriage. Featuring music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by George Furth, and orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, the production runs February 7–March 1, 2014 at the Nancy and Edward Roberts Studio Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, Boston’s South End.  As part of every production, Moonbox spotlights the work of a local non-profit organization, helping them to increase the reach and impact of their work. For this production, Moonbox will partner with Music For Food , a Boston-based nonprofit that holds free concerts, open to the public, at which they ask attendees to make a donation to help fight hunger in our local community.  100% of proceeds from these concerts go to local food banks in the greater Boston area.

The world of COMPANY revolves around the handsome and charming Bobby—successful, single, turning 35, but reluctant to make a commitment—and his colorful and complicated circle of married, no-longer-married, and soon-to-be-married friends. As his landmark birthday approaches, three very different girlfriends join his inner circle in wondering aloud why he hasn’t found someone and settled down. In this hilarious and touching meditation on life’s “company”—friendships, love affairs, and marriage, for better and worse—the audience joins Bobby in his search for an answer.

Begun as a series of one-act plays written by George Furth, it was Company’s original director, Harold Prince, who suggested they be turned into a musical, with Stephen Sondheim joining the project to write the music and lyrics. The original Broadway production opened in 1970 after its first tryouts in Boston (Shubert Theatre), and went on to win the New York Drama Critics’ Award and six Tony awards, including Best Musical. The production marks a number of firsts for the company. After four years and six acclaimed productions, COMPANY will be Moonbox’s first large scale musical, and its inaugural show in the Calderwood Pavilion, in the larger, but still intimate Roberts Studio Theatre. 

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