OnStage Contributing Critic
Anyone who knows me well, will know that I am a sucker for a great Stephen Sondheim production. I've often regarded that his work is usually the toughest to perform for local theatres due to the complexities as well as the intricacies of the total production. It's not often when I walk out of a theatre feeling like the production "nailed it."
However, after seeing the production of "Company" running at the Little Theatre of Manchester, I have to be honest when I say, they certainly nailed it and more.
For those not familiar with arguably Sondheim's finest show, the show is centered around the character of confirmed bachelor, Robert. On the night of his 35th birthday, he contemplates his unmarried state. Over the course of a series of dinners, drinks, and even a wedding, his friends -- "those good and crazy people [his] married friends" -- explain the pro's and con's of taking on a spouse. The habitually single Robert is forced to question his adamant retention of bachelorhood during a hilarious array of interactions.
While the material is classic and familiar, director Michael Forgetta's production feel fresh. With a timeless feel and powerful voices, this is surely a production to remember.
Randy Ronco makes for an interesting Bobby. Suave yet vulnerable, his Bobby is certainly someone who you want to see find his lifelong mate and yet we can see why he's still a bachelor. Mr. Ronco especially shines during numbers like "Marry Me a Little" and the iconic "Being Alive" which brought down the house.
With an ensemble as strong as this, and given the materials they're given, it's impossible to say who stood more than the others. However let me give praise to Jane Cerosky as Joanne, how gave a chill inducing "Ladies Who Lunch" rendition and Alysa Auriemma as Amy, who's "I'm Not Getting Married Today" was a particular highlight.
But as I said before, this is an exceptionally strong cast. They include: Tracy Funke, Shawn Procuniar, Jenna Levitt, Sal Uccello, Michelle Ortiz-Saltmarsh, James Galarneau, Rodney K, Randy Boyd, Cara Babich, Sandra W. Lee and Kate Brophy.
What I also found interesting was the choice of including the vocal minority, which is not often used in productions of "Company" these days. They include: Ann Azevedo, Donato DiGenova, Dawne Robinson Gagnon, Debi Newirth, Lisa Garofalo Polack, Sherrie Schallack, Deb Thaler, and Scott Woodruff. While they certainly added to the already stellar music, courtesy of Music Director Kim Aliczi, I found their presence to be a bit distracting, crowding and ultimately unnecessary.
With that said, this is an excellent production of an iconic, ground breaking musical. There are many elements of this production that I will remember for quite sometime.