Company By Steven Sondheim and George Furth
Directed by Frank McLain
Musical Direction by Robin Jensen
Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando FL</strong>
Robert (Shawn Kilgore) isn’t exactly a Confirmed Bachelor, but his married friends are a little worried. He dates heavily, proclaims matrimony as life’s highest calling, but once he gets to third or fourth base, things stall. He’s 35 already, so what’s he waiting for? Maybe it’s all the unhappily married friends surrounding him that are pulling the choke. Harry (Michael Colavolpe) and Sarah (Kate O’Neal) both fight addictions but use martial arts as a marital aid, Peter (Christopher Norton) and Susan (Rebekah Lane) signed up for a friendly divorce, and Joanne (Elizabeth Murff) has a Mrs. Robinson complex and is not going to waste Robert’s time discussing plastics. Even his girl friends are getting fed up – April (Mellissa Careccia) is shallow and compliant, but as a stewardess she has options. Kathy (Emily Bramblett) went proactive and signed up for a bridal registry while Riot Grrrl Marta (Heather Lea Charles) attempts the false pregnancy route. The world is screaming “You do! You do!” but now Robert is so spooked by commitment he’s afraid of opening a letter from Columbia House.
It’s Sondheim and we expect dark, complex emotions but they come with bouncy music. “The Little Things You Do Together” and “You Could Drive a Person Crazy” were nearly sing alongs, and Ms. Murff put some real bite and desperation into “Ladies Who Lunch.” Director McClain has taken a notoriously dark story and fluffed it into a positive twist and turned a challenging book into a confident, coherent, and completely enjoyable evening. Lyrics and motifs float in and out, echoes of “Into the Woods” chorography dominate the first act, and here the dark subtext in any and all relations seem more a mutual game of dozens rather than a swan dive into guaranteed misery. (Robert) looks like a young Mel Brooks but pulls you into his fear and fascination with heterosexual commitment – he wants the ring and the tax deduction, but is unsure of which dark alley will mug him. The singing ranges from excellent to great; the acting comfortable and sincere. Of all Robert’s dalliance, Marta felt like the most promising – her tight torn jeans and 1960’s hair enhanced her emotional appeal even as her New Yorkaphilia painted the bleakest future. Punk was generation away, but we knew that Marta had “Marky Ramone Groupie” tattooed on her ass before David Bowie airbrushed his first facial stripe. We leave Robert where we found him: the envy of his male friends, a tempting project for his female friends and a lost soul adrift on the sea of life. As with all marriages, your mileage may differ.
For more information on Mad Cow, please visit http://www.madcowtheatre.com