Thursday, November 18, 2021

Company (Broadway)


Bachelorette Roberta (Katrina Lenk) aka Bobbie to her social circle is celebrating her 35th birthday. Along with the surprise party comes unsolicited worry from her friends regarding her marital status now that she is the only one left either not married or divorced yet. Most of her friends are already hitched or going through rough patches in their respective marriages. Bobby does not see what is in it for her, though. What will she get if she marries one of her three flings? Elderly friend with an acerbic tongue, Joanne (Patti Lupone), chimes in and gives some frank advice. But Bobbie still does not get it. Reflecting on her current situation, she goes on a soul searching of sorts, visiting and revisiting her friends’ very own relationships in the hopes of discovering what she really wants and whether married bliss or tragedy is really appropriate for a girl like her.

Oh wow, did I just find a new favorite musical? I guess I enjoyed Company that much because it hits close to home. Bobbie in the original staging and other revivals was actually Bobby. It is only in this particular rendition that the role is gender-swapped. Nonetheless, the core of the storyline is there. How do you live your life surrounded by friends and family who have already settled down and wouldn’t shut up about your own decision regarding the matter? I guess what people do not understand and what Bobbie/Bobby makes clear is that there is no easy answer.

Heck, if I don’t even know what the F I am doing with my life, how do you think could I give you a definitive answer just to satisfy your prying curiosity? And that is what Company is all about, that ever looming midlife crisis for those who have no idea how to settle down. A lot of people in their mid and late thirties will be able to relate to this storyline without trying too hard. Perhaps even those in their late twenties and early twenties. If you are Asian.

More than the aforementioned themes tackled, Company also shines bright as a musical thanks to other factors, such as its production design. Since most of the settings involve indoor spaces, they take advantage of moving sets flowing into each other and bordered by neon lighting that can be modified to depict changing mood or mounting tension. Aside from those, they also use a trapdoor large enough to fit in an entire apartment balcony. Seeing those moving sets zoom forward, rise, or drop and disappear lends a lot of interesting visuals for the audience to enjoy as well as some innovative transitions that make you go wow.

Talking about fully functional sets, “Getting Married Today” is perhaps the best example for it. That particular musical number is so hilarious and enticing, not just because of the lyrics and its rapid spoken word nature but also because of that particular set taking total advantage of each and every furniture and house appliance to hide an unsuspected cameo from the intrusive characters. The way that singing nun just pops out from behind the door or suddenly comes out from the fridge just leaves you in awe.

Most of the songs are also catchy, with some already preceded by their reputation. Lupone’s “The Ladies Who Lunch” was received with an extended standing ovation, not because of the song but for the mere fact that it was sung by her. "Being Alive" wrapping up the entire musical is also a showstopper, even though Lenk seemed to lack the intensity that evening. Or perhaps it’s really just that difficult to top Raul Esparza’s powerful rendition in the 2007 restaging? In any case, whatever or whoever your biases are, it doesn’t matter. You will surely enjoy Company for its brutal take on modern relationships anyhow.

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