Company starts with a surprise 35th birthday party. One that the forever-alone protagonist, Bobby, doesn't want to have. Bobby is a bachelor, surrounded by (or perhaps more accurately suffocated by) five couples. His best friends are all married, for better or worse. Throughout the play Bobby observes the dysfunction of the relationships around him and melodically laments, "Why would you want to get married?"
A valid question that wasn't often asked when the musical comedy Company premiered on Broadway in 1970. In its time, the play was considered a revolutionary production because of the down-to-earth content. As the play's composer, Stephen Sondheim, asserted at the time, "Broadway theater 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 the theatre, and then here we are with Company talking about how we're going to bring it right back in their faces."
Now, with divorces the norm rather than the exception, and the term "old maid" expunged from modern vernacular, the content seems less taboo.
But it was by spoon-feeding audiences what they weren't asking for that Sondheim became one of the most successful musical theater composers of 20th century. He contributed to some of Broadway's most popular shows, including Follies, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods and West Side Story.
During the Company's 1970 debut, a then 32-year-old Broadway actress and dancer Maralyn Thoma sat awed in the audience.
"I knew it was going to be a hit before I saw it just because of all the buzz," recalled Thoma in an interview last week with the Source. Now the director of 2nd Street Theater's production, Thoma said that Company coming to Bend has been a long time in the making.
"I fell in love with the play," she recalled. "But for a long time you couldn't get enough talented singers to do it. Our talent pool [in Bend] has really gotten huge compared to what it used to be."
With a cast of 14—all of whom must master Sondheim's complex compositions—Company is bringing together some of Bend's most talented musical theater actors for a full-scale Broadway-style blowout. With many veteran 2nd Street Theater and Cascade's Theatrical Company performers, the cast only has three members who have not performed previously in Central Oregon.
The promise for furthering the development of theater in the region also was reinforced last week with the announcement that Stage Right Productions, an organization that works closely with 2nd Street to bring shows like Evil Dead the Musical to the theater, were approved for non profit status last week. This means that Sandy Klein, who works a 9-to-5 on top of managing the theater and the production company, will be able to write grants and hopefully transition her attention to the theater full-time. SW
Opens 8pm, Friday, June 7.
8 pm, Thursday, June 13 & 20.
8 pm, Fridays through June 21.
8 pm, Saturdays through June 22.
3 pm, Sundays through June 23.
2nd Street Theater, 220 NE Lafayette Ave.
$21, student/senior $18.
Upcoming performances from 2nd Street Theater:
Spamalot at the Tower Theatre: September 2013
New Playwright Platform: October 2013
BEAT Production: November 2013
Evil Dead: the Musical Christmas Version!: December 2013
SantaLand Diaries/Christmas Unabridged: December 2013
Picasso at Lapine Agile, by Steve Martin: January/February 2014
The World Goes 'Round, (The Songs of Kander & Ebb): March 2014
Helen On Wheels, by Cricket Daniel: April 2014
New Playwright Winner TBD: May 2014
Sweeney Todd, by Stephen Sondheim: June 2014