Sondheim's Company Brings Laughs and Insight to Main Street Playhouse
The Main Street Players in Miami Lakes presented a relatively impressive opening night performance of the insightful and amusing musical Company with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth. The production was engaging, the stage design perfectly simple, and, for the most part, the singers sounded good and acted well. A live keyboardist and violinist guided the musical journey without overpowering what was going on onstage.
Bobby's (James Carrey) a bachelor, he's turning 35, and the fact that he's not married yet is the focus of his friends' lives. The play begins with a chorus of friends, who openly baby and idolize the guy, singing him a happy birthday. They wish him "fame, fortune, and your first wife."
We quickly learn that he's got three girlfriends, none of which he seems
to actually like, and he's also only friends with five married couples.
Each interaction with the pairs ends up revealing something different
about how people work in relationships. Bobby gets alone time with each
set, and only in the end does he finally "get it" why people are in
Bobby's evening at the house of Sarah (Francine Birns) and Harry (Ron Torres) is tense, but goofy. The pair fight about the little things but then end up in a sort of passionate, aggressive embrace when Sarah shows Harry her karate moves he claims she doesn't have.
This quirky, physical scene was well performed, and the audience ate it up. Harry then leads a few of the men into a funny "Sorry-Grateful," explaining how they feel when they see their ladies.
Next, Bobby smokes some weed with Jenny (Jennifer Roth Thibodeau) and David (Mike Thibodeau), possibly a real life couple. They're a responsible mom and dad who admit to wanting a little more freedom, but are clearly happy where they are in life.
Jenny's operatic voice really steals the show. Even when the whole cast sings in chorus, you can pick her beautiful voice out. In a performance with many instances of harmonizing, it adds such texture to the group's voices.
There's the couple who Bobby thinks is perfect, southern belle Susan (Jennifer Fain) and gayish Peter (Manny Catalino), but it turns out they're divorced, but wait, they still are living together and committed to each other. Just divorced. Things aren't always as they seem.
In the second act there's an odd scene where Peter asks Bobby if he's had a homosexual experience as an adult, he admits he has, then Peter makes a sexy move on him. Although it seems a little unnecessary, it's almost as if no romantic situation is being left out of this look at marriage and coupling.
Amy (Elizabeth Aspen Heller) and Paul (Shane Cooney) are about to head to the altar when Amy gets cold feet. Heller performed a virtually flawless and exciting "Getting Married Today" where she sings as quickly as the micromachines guy.
Her frantic performance was definitely the highlight of the night. After she tells Paul that she doesn't love him enough, Bobby pathetically asks her to marry him, and she goes running back to Paul. Doubting the real thing is better than not having it at all.
This all leads into a little purposefully awkward dance number that then transitions into a not so smooth "sex" scene between Bobby and his ditzy stewardess girlfriend April (Melissa Gonzales). The women of the cast come out and sing the unlucky stewardess' shortcomings, including "isn't she a little, you know, tall? She's tall enough to be your mother!"
The scene amusingly ends with April leaving to go to Barcelona, and Bobby insisting she stay, "stay, stay" and her resisting at first and finally saying "OK." Bobby follows up with "Oh, God." Men are such pigs and women such fools.
All performance, the funny character of Joanne was well animated by Lorna Veraldi, who, it turns out, according to the program guide, hasn't acted since the '70s. The final couples scene reveal a bitter middle aged lady criticizing her husband Larry (Jerry Weinberg) and hitting on Bobby, but ultimately she reveals herself to be of good character helping Bobby see that he not only needs to be taken care of but to take care of someone else. Alas, the epiphany!
Bobby's had it with his friends, doesn't show up to his own birthday party this year, but the thing is, they've helped him get what marriage is all about. Though couples amusingly baby him, he lets them, loves the attention, but every boy must become a man, and in Company, this guy does.
See Company by the Main Street Players from May 6 through 22, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. with two performances on May 21, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Go to mainstreetplayers.com or call 305-558-3737 for tickets.
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