Phone rings, door chimes, in comes TheatreLab Dayton’s delightfully entertaining production of “Company,” Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s landmark 1970 musical continuing through March 19 at the PNC Arts Annex.
Directed with refreshing nuances by TheatreLab artistic director Mackensie King, “Company” is outstandingly led by Bobby Mitchum as Robert, a New York City bachelor questioning his relationship status as he turns 35. Thoughts of marriage tug at Robert’s mind and heart, but is he really ready to settle down? Or is his independence enough? As he ponders his life throughout a series of humorous, thought-provoking and non-linear scenes, he turns to his good-natured gaggle of married friends and girlfriends for clarity, insight, and, eventually, inspiration.
The terrifically compatible cast, costumed in period attire by Ara G. Beal, includes couples Allie Haines and Garrett Young (Sarah and Harry), Danielle Ruddy and Derick Latimer (Susan and Peter), Abby Hoggatt and Philip Drennen (Jenny and David), Kara Hancock and Joshua Silver Hughes (Amy and Paul), and Lindsay Sherman and David Moyer (Joanne and Larry) along with girlfriends Rachel Hertenstein (Marta), Brooke Cierra (April) and Jackie Randall (Kathy).
Here are five reasons to see this show.
Supportive in big and small ways
The aforementioned couples are crucial to Robert’s journey and the close-knit chemistry between them as partners and as an ensemble is enjoyably showcased in “Side by Side by Side,” spiritedly choreographed by Alex Everett.
In particular, Hoggatt and Drennen create a captivatingly lived-in connection as parents and spouses in moments big and small encompassing pot-smoking, inaudible argument and Drennen’s perfectly blasé reaction to Hoggatt while fixing a door frame.
Elsewhere, the attractively dressed, sophisticated Haines comically partners with Young very well accenting “The Little Things You Do Together,” and Sherman, too young to play aging Joanne but conveying an older maturity, firmly takes tipsy anthem “The Ladies Who Lunch” down an unexpected internal path of regret and trepidation. The song’s unique trajectory here exemplifies King’s willingness to think outside the box in order to approach the material anew.
A quiet farewell full of depth
In most productions, the late Act 1 exchange in which Kathy tells Robert she’s leaving New York for married life in Cape Cod can seem like an afterthought, mainly because not enough is known about her aside from her witty opinions about him in “You Can Drive a Person Crazy.” However, due to Randall’s gentle, loving poignancy, conjuring so much history in mere minutes yet entirely confident in the decision to move on, Kathy feels fully realized as the one that got away.
A passionate advocate for New York City
Hertenstein, memorable in the titular role of “Violet” with Dare to Defy Productions in 2018, excitedly captures the pulsating energy and wonderment of the Big Apple in her strong, descriptive rendition of “Another Hundred People.” The song leads into her winning scene with Mitchum which finds Marta passionately advocating for the character and uniqueness of the city as if she’s well on her way to running for New York City Council someday.
Frantic bridal meltdown
As neurotic Amy, hesitant to be a bride on her wedding day, Hancock delivers the rapid-fire “Getting Married Today,” one of the most challenging songs in the Sondheim repertoire, with funny fear and expressive purpose. The number is pleasantly accented by Hoggatt and Hughes as the meltdown builds.
The charming, vocally strong Mitchum impressively navigates Robert’s complexities with an inner struggle befitting his unfulfilled nature. At the outset, in the title number, he sets in motion a dark, intriguing disgust, as if Robert can’t stand the company he praises, a departure from the norm I would’ve liked to have seen expanded upon throughout. Overall, his portrayal, which is among his best, absolutely radiates in moments of introspection. Prepare to be moved by the beautiful yearning in his splendid renditions of “Someone is Waiting,” “Marry Me a Little” and the powerful, uplifting epiphany “Being Alive.”
Credit: Philip Drennen
Credit: Philip Drennen
HOW TO GO
Where: PNC Arts Annex, 46 W. Second St., Dayton
When: Through March 19; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: 937-228-3630 or daytonlive.org
About the Author