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REVIEWS

Company, by Stephen Sondheim - songs; George Furth - book (uncredited in the program)
I Once Ate a Rooster
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.

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