As a new mum, it’s rare you get a night to yourself and those nights, whether spent with a family member or friend are so precious. As a blogger and writer I’m always looking for experiences. I was lucky to be invited to Company the Musical at the Grand Opera House. I brought along a good friend and of course we enjoyed an obligatory pre-theatre tipple (as well as an apres-theatre French Martini obvs). There is something quite magical about watching live theatre. It’s so immersive and the atmosphere is palpable. It was a full-house and we settled into our seats close to the action. The staging was very impressive and the on-stage orchestra set the big city New York scene. The original production of Stephen Sondheim’s Company was nominated for a record-setting fourteen Tony Awards and won six. Sondheim said he wanted Company to be a form of escapism. “Broadway theatre has been for many years supported by upper-middle-class people with upper-middle-class problems. These people really want to escape that world when they go to theatre.”
Director James Huish makes his return to the Grand Opera House with this brilliant musical comedy. He says: “Company is a snapshot of being married, being single, and the pressures modern society puts on us to be stereotyped. It’s based on every day relationships and so within the show there is someone that everyone can relate to and is a hilarious journey of self-discovery set to Stephen Sondheim’s amazing songs.”
The plot revolves around Robert (Bobby Bubbi/Bobby Baby), a seemingly commitment-phobic, yet popular, handsome, single man about to turn 35. He is surrounded by five well-meaning, if a little eccentric married and engaged couples. The musical is composed of short vignettes, presented in no particular chronological order. Nothing is fairy-tale, and one couple, the likeable Peter and Susan are going through an oddly amicable divorce, while another, Sarah and Harry snip at each constantly. Harry sings “You’re always sorry. You’re always grateful. You’re always wondering what might have been. Then she walks in.” Neurotic Amy has cold feet before her wedding. The oldest and most cynical (and most divorced) of Robert’s friends is Joanne who puts in a solid performance with rousing vocals. In her knowing solo ‘The Little Things You Do Together’, she muses: “It’s the little things you are together, Swear Together, Wear Together, That make perfect relationships. The concerts you enjoy together, Neighbours you annoy together, Children you destroy together, That keep marriage intact.”
Bobby (Mark Tilley) watches on as the couples in his life navigate the ups and downs of married life. In turn, his best friends (especially the men) long for even “one hour” of being single. His female friends long for him to find a girl and settle down. He has no shortage of female admirers and enjoys a fling with slow-witted but hilarious airline flight attendant April. He also has dalliances with outlandish Marta, the self-coined “soul of New York” and Kathy, whom he dated previously and both admitted to considering marrying one another. However, she tells him she is leaving for Cape Town with a new fiance. Bobby is conflicted, a good person, with friends who adore him, but he wants knows is missing something. He wants: “Someone to hold me too close, Someone to hurt me too deep. Someone to sit in my chair, And Ruin my sleep, And make me aware, Of being alive. Being Alive.”
You are routing for him to find love, but we’re not even sure if even he knows what he wants. His perception of marriage is shaped by his friends and he is very wary of becoming entrapped in a union that may not last, for whatever reason. However, despite his doubts, he still yearns to “Feel Alive”. At the start of the musical, his friends urged him to blow out his birthday candles, which he didn’t. Perhaps not wanting to believe in whimsical fantasies. The end is a little unsatisfying as we don’t know if Robert will find love, but someone, he seems satisfied with his lot.
I’m so glad I’m not in the dating game anymore. I can’t stand the games that people play (and that I played myself in a bid to be “keep ’em mean, keep ’em clean). I was also a self-saboteur when it came to a few relationships. They didn’t work out for a reason and my now hubby whom I met aged 32, was my first ‘proper’ boyfriend. I never thought love was for me, after spending most of my twenties single. Now, I can’t imagine my life without my partner or my baby. It is funny how life turns out. It’s not a bed a roses and I’d be lying if I said it were. But, it is the little things that makes a marriage. For me, snuggling into my husband’s chest before going to sleep, laughing at something silly on TV, or just being with one another not feeling the need to talk.
Company the Musical is great fun, and perfect for a girls’ night out. It’s upbeat, energetic, with a dose of sentimentality thrown in to give an all-rounded feel-good theatre experience. You can always gauge how good a show is by its audience and there was a constant trickle of belly laughs, giggles and applause throughout. It’s the perfect company for the weekend.
You can still catch Company the Musical tonight and tomorrow at the Grand Opera House.
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