Great Performances

Season 36 Episode 7


Aired Unknown Feb 20, 2008 on PBS
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Episode Summary

Stephen Sondheim's musical about a man who celebrates his 35th birthday with 10 friends, who happen to be 5 couples. This 2006 Broadway revival won a Tony award as "Best Revival" of the 2006-2007 seaon.

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • Brave New Staging of the Classic Broadway Musical

    When one has listened to the Original Broadway Cast Album of any show as often as I've listened to that of the Sondheim/Furth/Prince COMPANY, any new production has unrealistic expectations of living up to the original. Well, thanks to the inventive stage direction of John Doyle, the television direction of Lonny Price, and a cast of the best musical performers Broadway has to offer, this not only met expectations, but sometimes surpassed the original - a feat I didn't really ever expect.

    One of the original "concept" musicals, Company follows bachelor Bobby as he mingles amongst his married friends, along with a trio of his ladies. The book by George Furth is non-linear - we pop around in the timeline. The music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim changed Broadway with the original production and the qualities they exhibit have seldom been met and maybe never surpassed in the 40 years since the original production. British director John Doyle has created one of his musical casts - the players are also the orchestra. For example, the trio for Bobby's girlfriends, "You Could Drive a Person Crazy" becomes a saxophone be-bop number. When Bobby hits the emotional high point of the show with the show-stopping "Being Alive" he begins the number by accompanying himself on the grand piano that has been present throughout the piece. This version of "Being Alive", as delivered by Raul Esparza, is groundbreaking. The depth of the emotion and the throughline of the lyric come to life as I've not witnessed in a dozen stage versions over the years or the dozens more vocal versions I've heard. This Bobby is suffering, and not in a petulant, self-indulgent way - in the way that only the greatest characters in dramatic literature can.moreless

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