BEING in your 30s means finding a partner, settling down, and having children. Or so they say. The expectations for people this age what Company: A Musical Comedy — the first of three Stephen Sondheim musicals to be staged in Metro Manila this year — revolves around.

Company, which will run from Sept. 13 to 22, is produced by Upstart Productions.

With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth, the Tony award-winning musical follows 35-year-old Bobby, a bachelor who is unable to commit to a steady relationship or marriage. The story explores his relationships with his friends — five married couples and three girlfriends — through a series of short vignettes.

Actor and singer — appropriately with The CompanY — OJ Mariano takes on the role of Bobby. He shares the stage with his fellow The CompanY member Sweet Plantado-Tiongson who plays Sarah, one of Bobby’s many married friends.

Joining them in the cast are: Michael Williams, Cathy Azanza-Dy, Ariel Reonal, Nicky Triviño, Chino Veguillas, Bianca Lopez, Cathy Azanza-Dy, James Uy, Caisa Borromeo, Jill Peña, Maronne Cruz, and Upstart Productions’ artistic director Joel Trinidad.

The musical was first staged in the country by Repertory Philippines in 1997, with Cocoy Laurel as Bobby.

Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo is reprising her role she played in that first production — Joanne, a cynical woman who is on her third marriage with the understanding Larry. Joanne’s is the powerful song “Ladies Who Lunch,” first sung by comedienne Elaine Stritch.

“I was very happy when Topper asked me if I was willing to come back and do Joanne again because I felt when I did it in the ’90s, I was a little too young for it. I feel I can connect with the character more,” Ms. Lauchengco-Yulo said, during the press launch on Sept. 5 at the Maybank Performing Arts Theater in Taguig City.

“Joanna is much older, and she’s been through several marriages. So, I understand what she’s going through more now,” she added.

“It’s basically about marriage, commitment, and friendships. It’s also about how relationships evolve over time. Everyone kind of goes through it,” director Topper Fabregas said of the story.

“When Stephen Sondheim writes his musicals, everything he writes has purpose — the way a song is written, the lyric[s] he says, and a fun part of the process is learning the music and trying to understand it and hoping that the cast understands it as well. So that the choices they make are from the evidence in the music,” musical director Rony Fortich said.

Company: A Musical Comedy runs from Sept. 13 to 22 at the Globe Auditorium, Maybank Performing Arts Theater, BGC Arts Center, Taguig City. Tickets are available through TicketWorld (, 891-9999). — Michelle Anne P. Soliman