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Sondheim's "Company"


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#1 NBooth

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Posted 06 January 2005 - 06:52 PM

Hello, all; I've recently become in a college drama group, and our current project is Sondheim's Company. Our director/professor described this play as "racy," but didn't give much more detail. Now, I'm only just eighteen, and therefore live at home, so that all activites of this sort pass through my parent's radar, so... is this play anything to be ashamed of? What do you all think about it?

#2 MattPage

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Posted 07 January 2005 - 03:54 AM

My brother is a huge Sondhiem fan and I seem to recall I bought him the Cd of this for a birthday / Christmas present not long ago. I'll ask him next time we speak. I'm only familiar with Sweeny Todd, which has one slightly suspect scene which was cut from the youth production my bro was in, but is certainly not worth avoiding being inthe play for IMHO. Sondheim tends to be dark rather than racey in my limited exerience, but I'll ask my brother about Company.

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#3 M. Dale Prins

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Posted 07 January 2005 - 09:53 AM

: I'm only familiar with [Sweeney] Todd, which has
: one slightly suspect scene which was cut from
: the youth production my bro was in...

Um, just out of curiosity, which scene was that? The (I'm trying to be vague to avoid spoilers) pie song that ends act one? One of the scenes between the girl and the judge? One of the times with Mr. Todd in the barber shop?

(I might know better what scene it was exactly had I watched a normal version of Sweeney Todd rather than the awesomely wack one currently on stage in London, where the cast is also the orchestra [e.g. the judge plays the flute, Mrs. Lovett plays the cello]; it was a brilliant inspiration, but since all cast members were necessarily always on stage, it did get slightly confusing.)

Dale

#4 mrmando

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Posted 07 January 2005 - 12:53 PM

I'd have to guess it was Judge Turpin's lust-ridden self-flagellation solo number, but what do I know? Sweeney Todd on the whole is not appropriate for a youth production, partly because of its dark themes and necessary violence and partly because most youth don't have the vocal or acting chops to pull it off.

There's hardly a Sondheim musical that doesn't deconstruct "traditional" morality in some way, and Company is no exception. (Of course he's equally adept at deconstructing the moralities that have replaced traditional morality.) Here's a synopsis. I hope you can peel your parents off the ceiling.

#5 NBooth

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Posted 07 January 2005 - 04:02 PM

Thanks for the information, all. I suppose I'll try to weasle out a backstage job and expand my theatrical know-how that way.

#6 mrmando

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Posted 07 January 2005 - 04:06 PM

Haven't actually seen Company, but just because it portrays pot-smoking and adultery doesn't mean it endorses themójust as Sweeney Todd portrays but doesn't endorse murder and cannibalism in the name of class warfare.

This point, however, may well be lost on your parents.

#7 NBooth

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Posted 07 January 2005 - 04:56 PM

QUOTE(mrmando @ Jan 7 2005, 05:06 PM)
Haven't actually seen Company, but just because it portrays pot-smoking and adultery doesn't mean it endorses themójust as Sweeney Todd portrays but doesn't endorse murder and cannibalism in the name of class warfare.

This point, however, may well be lost on your parents.

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Heh. I'm sure they get the difference, but I'm willing to bet it nails the coffin-lid on this acting-experience, all the same. Still, I will be present, and see it as it's put on, so it's not like I'm being yanked out of the theatre by my collar.

#8 MattPage

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Posted 09 January 2005 - 08:46 AM

QUOTE(M. Dale Prins @ Jan 7 2005, 02:53 PM)
: I'm only familiar with [Sweeney] Todd, which has
: one slightly suspect scene which was cut from
: the youth production my bro was in...

Um, just out of curiosity, which scene was that?  The (I'm trying to be vague to avoid spoilers) pie song that ends act one?  One of the scenes between the girl and the judge?  One of the times with Mr. Todd in the barber shop?

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QUOTE(mrmando @ Jan 7 2005, 05:53 PM)
I'd have to guess it was Judge Turpin's lust-ridden self-flagellation solo number, but what do I know? Sweeney Todd on the whole is not appropriate for a youth production, partly because of its dark themes and necessary violence and partly because most youth don't have the vocal or acting chops to pull it off.

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Uh yeah it was the self flagellation one. Hmm
The pies one at the end of the first half is brilliant, one of the funniest musical numbers ever IMHO, and I'm not really into musicals per se. but it is just brilliant.


QUOTE(M. Dale Prins @ Jan 7 2005, 02:53 PM)
(I might know better what scene it was exactly had I watched a normal version of Sweeney Todd rather than the awesomely wack one currently on stage in London, where the cast is also the orchestra [e.g. the judge plays the flute, Mrs. Lovett plays the cello]; it was a brilliant inspiration, but since all cast members were necessarily always on stage, it did get slightly confusing.)

Dale

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London, England?
That does sound bizarre - I'm sure it would be interesting, but I'm not sure it would do justice to the work. (My mum saw it once and someone actually cried out "oh no" at one quiet point such was the tension.

I've seen it about 5 times now, with vaying levels of professionalism, my favourite is actually still the one my brother was in. The director was actually the same guy that directoed the original so they had some real class and it was a youth opera group that was pretty tight to get into.

Matt

#9 NBooth

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 09:55 AM

Incidentally, I thought I might mention that I wasn't the only one with reservations, apparantly; someone complained to the school president and got the play canceled. It's just as well though: with perfomances on the 18, 19, and 20th of March, the cast had yet to begin blocking or learning lines! laugh.gif

#10 Neb

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 08:59 PM

Frankly, I don't think you missed much. I saw a production of Company years ago and remember it as mildly diverting but wordly and non-hopeful about human relationships. Again, this was AGES ago. I also didn't think the music was particularly memorable, unlike a Rogers & Hammerstein or even Lloyd Weber show, IMO.


#11 NBooth

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Posted 11 March 2005 - 07:51 AM

You mean you didn't walk around the rest of the week with "Bobby...Bobby...Bababababobby...Bobby" going through your head? I still find myself humming it at odd moments....

#12 Neb

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Posted 13 March 2005 - 11:09 PM

Curse you.

That particular ditty has been my personal burden ever since hearing it, oh, twenty years ago. It pops into my head, not unlike an irritating advertising jingle, on an almost weekly, sometimes daily, basis.

It is evil.

#13 NBooth

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Posted 14 March 2005 - 09:32 PM

tongue.gif

Well, several weeks ago now, I started humming "The Little Things You Do Together" at break in a Bible study, and it wouldn't stop running (in nasal tones,) through my head. It's rather like what I suppose posession must be liked for the poor bedeviled mortal.

Seriously, (though I didn't see much of it put together,) it really seemed particularly non-redemptive, or, at any rate, noncommittal, about everything going on. Although, I suppose that might be the point.

Edited by NBooth, 14 March 2005 - 09:34 PM.


#14 MattPage

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Posted 03 August 2005 - 03:53 AM

This seems like the best place to put this.

Fans of Sweeney Todd may like to know that my brother has just drawn my attention to this DVD.


Matt

#15 Ryan H.

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 11:13 PM

I was digging for a thread to talk about my experience seeing the current Broadway revival of FOLLIES and stumbled on this thread. Couldn't resist making a few comments on the show, which I like, even though I don't find COMPANY to be one of the strongest Sondheim musicals. It's rough around the edges, dated, and meanders more than it should. A bold show for its time, but now a respectable early effort from some folks who would go on to be giants in the theater world.

I'm kinda surprised by the chat here that characterizing COMPANY as purely cynical. Sondheim shows tend to have a strong cynical streak, but often there's a strong push past it, to recover a kind of idealism and hope (see also ANYONE CAN WHISTLE, SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, INTO THE WOODS), or at least the desire for such recovery, even if such recovery does not occur (FOLLIES, MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG). The Sondheim musicals largely embody a tension between pessimism and a pure idealism, and nowhere is this truer than in COMPANY.

COMPANY spends a lot of time examining how difficult marriage can be, true, and sometimes with a pretty cynical edge ("The Little Things You Do Together" is the cynic's view of marriage, through and through). But COMPANY also develops its POV on marriage, eventually coming to embrace the institution, even though it acknowledges the cracks in the plaster. So early on, we get songs of great doubt--"Sorry/Grateful" is a pretty brilliant and thoughtful way of broaching the ambiguities of married life--and then later, songs of increasing hope and desire for marriage ("Someone Is Waiting"/"Marry Me a Little"), a depiction of the beauty of marital intimacy ("Tick Tock"), and then finally a strong, full embrace of marriage in the climax ("Being Alive").

Now, not all of this is nuanced in ways I can wholly get behind, but the outlook of the musical is nevertheless fairly hopeful, and, ultimately, pro-marriage.

#16 NBooth

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 10:27 AM

Oh, wow. I had forgotten this thread. I guess now's as good a time as any to note that I wound up seeing the play on Netflix some years later and enjoyed it quite a bit. I agree that it's less cynical than I expected; in the end, I think the play comes down on the side of marriage, even dysfunctional marriage, as an ultimately needful (if not necessarily always "good") thing. And there's something about that acknowledgement of human need that seems ultimately more positive than a full-throated endorsement of the institution.