COMPANY (BCP): Settle down with Sondheim

Justin Guarini and COMPANY. Photo by Mandee Kuenzle.

Now that’s how you start off the summer! The beautiful Bucks County Playhouse opened to a full house with COMPANY. Based on the book by George Furth, music by Stephen Sondheim, COMPANY was originally directed on Broadway by Harold Prince. Now, director Hunter Foster and creative minds Alexander Fraser (producing director) and Robyn Goodman (executive producer) with producers Stephen Kocis and Josh Fiedler lead an awe-inspiring team that made the show nothing short of perfect.

Bobby (Justin Guarini) is celebrating his 35th birthday with his hitched or to-be-hitched friends who are all too concerned about his perpetual singlehood. He claims he’s not alone and talks about his recent prowess with quiet Kathy (Gabrielle Ruiz), flight attendant April (Anne Horak), and quirky, young Marta (Chelsea Emma Franko).

As he tries to navigate through the whirlwinds of emotion of “to settle” or “not to settle”, he takes cues from his friends in hilarious interactions. He watches as dieting Sarah (Jennifer Cody) and on-the-wagon Harry (John Bolton) duke it out; Susan (Susannah Jones) and Peter (Max Kumangai) happily make a strange announcement; Amy (Kate Wetherhead) gets cold feet at her wedding to adoring Paul (John Caliendo); goodie-goodie Jenny (Laura Jordan) and not so straight-laced David (Steve Rosen) smoke a doobie; and brash and inebriated Joanne (Candy Buckley) tries her best to chase away husband Larry (John Augustine).

Company-FI-gif1Tara Rubin Casting gets an “A”: the actors they found for these roles are more than just actors, they are multidimensional performers. Guarini was clearly the star of the show. His performance of “Marry me a Little” was a tear-jerker and “Being Alive” was truly powerful. That is not to overlook the other standout moments including Wetherhead and Caliendo’s performance of “”Getting Married Today”, Ruiz’s dance, and Buckley’s “The Ladies Who Lunch”. All of the actors were believable and original with the simultaneous undertone of seriousness and humor. The choreography (Lorin Latarro) made each number special, not to mention Jason Sherwood showing off his brilliance with an amazing set. With so many credits due I’ll fall short in saying every facet of the show from sound, lighting, music, costumes, et al. led to a most entertaining night at the Playhouse. [Bucks County Playhouse, New Hope] May 29–June 21, 2015.

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