Keeping Good Company

This is starting to feel like a busy week.  I’ve caught my third show in as many days, and am now trying to squeeze in a post about it in between shifts at work and the NEXT show, which as I write this is, oh, just over 2 hours away.  I guess ‘busy’ isn’t so bad, really, but I could stand with a cuppa coffee.  Oh well.

the show last nite, by the by, was Stephen Sondheim’s COMPANY, from the wired-up, go-getting, never-say-die hepcats at Sock’n’Buskin Theatre.  This’un was directed by Black Sheep Theatre’s Dave Dawson, who must be one busy lad himself these days, what with ’33 and the Black Box series over at the Gladstone.  And I’ll bet he’s bitching WAY less than me about it, too.

Now, COMPANY is a musical and, apparently, Stephen Sondheim is kind of a big deal in that regard, although until last evening I remained blissfully ignorant of any of his contributions.  Now I’m happy to have made his acquaintance, especially thru a nice, small-scale but big-hearted student production like this one.  Set against a kitchsy-cool cityscape backdrop from Awesome Jeff Cowen (hey, that’s what it says in the program, I’m gonna argue?) and featuring live musical accompaniment that was a pleasant surprise to me, Company tells the story of Robert (played with considerable charm by James Barron), a 35-year old singleton burdened with existential ennui and fabulous hair and surrounded by his happily married friends on all sides (even the divorcees are happier than he is).  It’s a tougher lot than it sounds…every new girl in Robert’s life seems to compare less than favourably to his corral of platonic galpals (played by Jesse Gronhvod, Gillian Ashton, Elizabeth McSheffrey, Tess McManus and Jenn Keay), and his bros (Mathie Charelbois, Alex Brunjes, Nick Diamant, Adam Moscoe and Justin Villanueava) seem to have less-than-helpful advice for him.  Along the way we witness his failed attempts to join the married set himself, through relationships with April, Marta and Kathy (Laura Eamon, Annie King-Smith and Ashley Matthews) that don’t so much blow up in has face, as simply fail to launch.

The musical numbers are all pretty spiffy, ad the gang does a terrific job keeping the energy at a high pace throughout.  Some personal highlights for me: Jenn Keay’s bitter, drunken solo; a rousing full-cast tune to launch act two, that leaves leading man Robert ignoring the entire affair at times; Tess McManus’ manic wedding-day jitters belted out at triple-speed; and a lovely tune belted out by Annie King-Smith, that serves as the backdrop to Robert’s failed love life.  I was merrily impressed by the enitre company of COMPANY…although, as I was enjoying the show next to techno-wizard Jess Preece, I feel I SHOULD point out that they TOTALLY could have done more with that lighting board.

Altho we both agree the lightning was cool.

COMPANY has a longer run than most SnB shows, playing this weekend AND next, so your excuses are minimal.  If you dig a good musical, you’ll dig this one (because, you know, it’s good…and a musical).  So, thanks to the gang for a solid night out and, hey, I guess thanks for a dandy season as well!  Already looking forward to next year, Carleton U.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)


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