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You Are in Good “Company” at the Carnegie

Review by Doug Iden of Company: Carnegie Theatre

CarnegieCompanyImageYou’ll be in good Company when you attend the Stephen Sondheim musical which opens The Carnegie theater schedule. This is the first of Sondheim’s “concept musicals” so don’t expect a plot. The “concept” in this musical is relationships, or the lack thereof. The story, such as it is, shows Bobby’s life as a bachelor who cannot commit to a lasting relationship with a woman, let alone marriage. For his 35th birthday, he is surrounded his frenetic group of friends including four married couples and three potential girlfriends who alternately try to convince him to get married or stay single. Bobby is portrayed by a laconic Zachary Huffman who maintains a sufficient detachment to allow the transition to a more committed relationship work as the show progresses.

Sondheim’s songs are very difficult to sing musically while enunciating properly so the audience can hear the intricate lyrics. If you can’t hear the lyrics, it is difficult to follow the gist of the show. The singing voices of the ensemble were excellent but it was hard to follow the lyrics early on in the show. I’m not sure if the problem was the sound or the enunciation of the singers. However, as the evening progressed, it became easier to understand the lyrics. Three songs define the show: “Another Hundred People” (sung by Aiden Marie Sims), “The Ladies Who Lunch (sung by Stephanie Louise Park) and “Being Alive” (sung by Zachary Huffman) and each singer nails their performances. These songs represent the loneliness, despair and ultimate redemption of the characters in the story.

The entire ensemble is excellent with particular emphasis on Sara Kenny who performs a show stopping tour de force on the tongue-twistingly, frenetic patter song “Getting Married Today”. This is not only a difficult song but the machine gun rapid lyric is hard to deliver with clarity. There is a lot of comedic content in the show but Kenny is the best comedienne on stage.

Whether you enjoy Sondheim or not, you should enjoy this opening production at The Carnegie and a good start for new Theater Director Maggie Perrino.