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What it takes to have company

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Theater Review
Company: A Musical Comedy
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by George Furth
Presented by Upstart Productions
Ongoing until Sept. 22
Maybank Performing Arts Theater, BGC, Taguig City

It’s Robert’s (fondly called Bobby) 35th birthday! And his friends — five couples and three girlfriends — are waiting for him to show up at his surprise birthday party. He is the only bachelor among them. Will he wish to finally find the one? Or to stay content and happy as a bachelor? Is he really ready for commitment?

George Furth and Stephen Sondheim’s Tony award-winning Company: A Musical Comedy follows a New York bachelor who has yet to find a wife and settle down. The musical explores his relationships with his friends that show him the various dynamics of couples and married life.

Presented at the Maybank Theater at BGC, director Topper Fabregas chose to stage it as theater-in-the-round, a style which aims to make the audience feel closer to the actors and the action — however, in this case it felt detached. Set designer Joey Mendoza’s elevated rectangular platform makes it difficult for the audience to see the actors well, especially those seated in the front rows. If you plan to see the show, a seat in the balcony or the upper rows of the orchestra section would have a better view. I would have preferred the setup they had during the show’s press launch where the actors were scattered around and performed sans the platform. As an audience member, it made for a more intimate experience, as if the actors were talking to you as they sang.

OJ Mariano suits the role of the central character Bobby physically, along with his strong vocals.

Other commendable performances are of Cathy Azanza-Dy’s who plays Amy and her attention-grabbing performance of “Not Getting Married,” alongside James Uy (Paul) and Bianca Lopez’s choral vocal prowess. Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo owned the stage with her powerful take on “Ladies Who Lunch.”

It has been 49 years since the musical premiered on Broadway in 1970. The story presents that Bobby as a bachelor is celebrated despite the peer pressure he feels at being a constant third wheel when among his married friends. While the societal pressure towards marriage and commitment may remain relatable to some of the audience members who are in the same shoes as Bobby’s character, there are just as many today who do not conform to that conventional lifestyle. There are limitations on exploring how dated material, no matter how entertaining, may be updated to resonate with a new audience and times. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman

Tickets are available through TicketWorld (www.ticketworld.com.ph, 891-9999). For inquiries, contact Upstart Productions at 0917-811-6156 or upstartproductionsinc@gmail.com.

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