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Company

a Musical
CATEGORY : MUSICAL
by Stephen Sondheim - songs; George Furth - book (uncredited in the program)

COMPANY : Out of Box Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Artisan Resource Center
ID# 4809

SHOWING : November 06, 2015 - November 22, 2015

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Sondheim’s game-changing musical is a sophisticated and honest look at modern, adult relationships. From musical theatre’s most renowned composer, "Company" is largely regarded as a trailblazer of the dark-comedy, modern-musical genre and the winner of seven TONY Awards including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Lyrics and Best Book. On the night of his 35th birthday, confirmed bachelor Robert contemplates his unmarried state. Over the course of a series of dinners, drinks, and even a wedding, his friends -- "those good and crazy people [his] married friends" -- explain the pro’s and con’s of taking on a spouse. The habitually single Robert is forced to question his adamant retention of bachelorhood during a hilarious array of interactions.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Carolyn Choe
Musical Director Annie Cook
Marta Amanda Shae Benedict
Kathy Jimmica Collins
Joanne Annie Cook
Harry Stephen DeVillers
Jenny Lydia Frempong
David Patrick Hill
Larry Jerry Jobe
Peter Clinton McCormick
Bobby Zip Rampy
Susan Julie Resh
Amy Lauren Rosenzweig
Paul Dylan Parker Singletary
Sarah Emily Tyrybon
April Suzanne Zoller
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REVIEWS

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I Once Ate a Rooster
by juice
Monday, November 23, 2015
2.5
The works of Sondheim have been near and dear to me for many a decade. Every note, every line and every character has resonated deep inside me which is why I leap at every opportunity to see his art put to local stage. It is a shame that this precluding joy could not have remained constant as I sat through this unfortunate production.

I rarely write reviews for shows. After sitting through an unsatisfying production, I’ll normally return home having accepted my losses and spend my remaining evening watching Terrence Malick films while washing my cats but today, I happened upon a review from this website that brought balance to my disillusionment. Despite his/her criticisms, however, I feel that only the tip of the iceberg was touched upon and so I’d care to present the remaining criticism that this show all but begged me to give.

Bobby (Zip Rampy), easily ranking among my top 35 favorite Sondhein characters was the first instance of my disenchantment. My predecessor’s review tackled many of my objections to his casting but I feel as if the actor was too easily forgiven for his apparent age. It is made clear throughout the show that Bobby is 35 years-old and yet Mr. Rampy is clearly no younger than 36. I can accept that suspension of disbelief is ever-present on the stage but this casting is clearly an exercise in vanity for our lead to relive an age now passed. Similarly, many others in the cast fail to meet their characters’ descriptions. Chiefly among them is April (Suzanne Zoller) who was described by Sondhime himself during his August 28th 1994 lecture at NYU as “Blonde” despite Ms. Zoller’s hair being far from that. Other characters displayed a wide array of physical flaws ranging from freckles to fly-away hairs that completely betrayed the wonderful people of “Company.”

Furthermore, the actors come off as if they read their character descriptions minutes before curtain. Sarah (Emily Tyrybon) claims to be proficient at martial arts but her response to her husband’s lunge is a clumsy Ippon seoi nage maneuver rather than the appropriate Ganseki Otoshi technique that any entry-level blue belt would know. Another offender is David (Patrick Hill), seen smoking marijuana with Bobby during the first act. Mr. Hill would have made a convincing seasoned pot smoker were it not for the occasional coughs that no self-respecting stoner would dare emit.

The set was nothing short of a catastrophe. Why Morgan Brooks designed only two stairs upstage is beyond me. Every Theatre 101 book explicitly states that the stairs used in “Company” should count up to 4 in order to properly symbolize the 4 stages of depression that Bobby suffers from. Any reasoning for the shorter number of steps succeeds only in muddling the blocking and angering this audience member.

All in all, the only praise I can give this show is for the costumes belonging to Jenny (Lydia Frempong), Peter (Clinton McCormick) and Amy (Lauren Rosenzweig). All others wore garb completely unbefitting of their characters. Other than that, the only thing that I can be grateful for is that my love for Sondhiem continues to burn strong despite this insufferable event. I’m going to take a bath now and as I scrub away the smell of peanut butter and bottom shelf vodka, I can only wish that my memory of this show could be removed as easily. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Bobby Schlubby Baby
by playgoer
Sunday, November 22, 2015
3.0
Bobby, the lead character in "Company," is described in the script as thin and attractive and turning 35. Zip Rampy, the Bobby in Out of Box Theatre’s production, is anything but a slim stud of a man. He’s a fine comedian, but has only an adequate voice. His position as associate artistic director on the staff of the theatre makes this seem like a vanity production. Carolyn Choe, the director, has populated the cast with men having the same general level of attractiveness as Mr. Rampy, perhaps in an attempt to make him seem to better fit in, but this just highlights the discrepancy in casting between the men and the women. Bobby’s romantic relationships consequently fall flat.

Ms. Choe, in her director’s notes, states that she wants "to show real people and real marriages that aren’t wrapped up in a pretty show packages [sic]." She doesn’t succeed in this. Emily Tyrybon and Stephen DeVillers do appear to be a true couple as Sarah and Harry, and Jerry Jobe and Annie Cook make an attractive couple as Larry and Joanne, but the other couples seem mismatched in one way or another. Acting and singing are fine across the board, but the New York of this production seems a lot more schlubby than chic. Even the scenic painting by Morgan Brooks seems off-kilter, with the night skyline of skyscrapers having lines off the perpendicular.

The pre-recorded tracks for the songs are of various quality, with a few sounding a bit synthesizer-heavy. Even so, Jim Poteete’s sound design does a good job of balancing the soundtrack with the voices. With the massed voices of the opening number, the effect is just this side of ear-splitting.

Costumes, presumably supplied by the cast, run the gamut from schlubby to stylish. Alessa Walle’s lighting does a fine job of illuminating things on Morgan Brooks’ setting, which consists of a long set of two steps, three backing flats, three black cubes, and a bar. Given the tiny size of the theatre and the large size of the cast (14 people, plus stage manager Brad Rudy), the major requirement of the set design seems to have been to keep things clear for the action.

Carolyn Choe’s blocking keeps things moving, and when Lauren Rosenzweig’s choreography kicks in, it keeps things moving in well-executed, energetic, pleasing patterns. The choreography is one of the highlights of the show, along with Ms. Rosenzweig’s rapid-patter "Getting Married Today" and the well-cast trio of Bobby’s girlfriends (Amanda Shae Benedict, Suzanne Zoller, and Jimmica Collins) performing "You Could Drive a Person Crazy." Mr. DeVillers also sounds pretty darn terrific in his solo lines, particularly in "Sorry-Grateful."

Out of Box Theatre has tried something different in its production of "Company." The things that don’t involve Bobby’s romances work well. The book scenes all come across, and the entire score is well-sung. I applaud Annie Cook for following her terrific "The Ladies Who Lunch" with a well-played come-on scene. If only she had someone more stereotypically attractive and sexually charismatic than Zip Rampy to play against. Blame iffy male casting (not the performers themselves) for the failure of this production to exceed expectations.
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