Company, Aberdeen Arts Centre, Aberdeen, Review:
***** 5 Stars
“A Musical Theatre Jewel”
The works of Legendary writer and composer Stephen Sondheim are rightly cherished and performed to great acclaimed the world over. With Sweeney Todd, Side by Side by Sondheim and Sunday in the park with George being the most often revived. However, in 1970 “Company” premiered in New York and changed the landscape of musical theatre for ever.
“Company” is a unique musical its plot revolves around Bobby (played with astonishing grace in the Aberdeen production, by Oliver Savile), a single man unable to commit fully to a steady relationship, let alone marriage, the five married couples who are his best friends, and his three girlfriends. Unlike most book musicals, which follow a clearly delineated plot, Company is a concept musical composed of short vignettes, presented in no chronological order, linked by a celebration for Bobby’s 35th birthday. It is in essence small snapshots into one man’s life, Seen Through his eyes revealing his emotions, the way he loves without asking the audience to either accept or condone his human actions. Its riveting stuff, so its easy to understand why it received a record 14 Tony Awards Nominations.
Its also a complicated stylised musical which is why it currently only has 2 major professional production credits in the UK, The 1970 original at Her Majesty’s Theatre in the west end and the 1996 revival at the Donmar Warehouse. (a brand-new revival opens at the Gielgud Theatre in September this year)
In Aberdeen director Derek Anderson has delivered a simply sublime production of the show, using just a single stage set in the intimate space of the Aberdeen Arts Centre with inventive projections from Video Designer Norvydas Genys. He relies on the west end calibre ensemble cast to deliver the show and it works to complete acclaim. Highlights include “Another hundred people” performed by Simbi Akande in the Role of Marta her vocals are as rich as honey and makes the song endlessly watchable. Also “Side by side by Side/ What would we do without you” shines as an ensemble piece. The true stand out number from the production is “The Ladies Who Lunch” performed by Anita Lousie Combe as Joanne, she can rightly take her place in the pantheon of leading ladies with this standout rendition of perhaps Sondheim’s greatest song.
Oliver Savile leads the company with mature grace even thought to many he may be on the young side to be “Bobby” but his performance is so self-assured he excels throughout. Couple these tremendous performances together with Musical Director Nick Barstow and his 14-piece orchestra, Lee Crowley’s Choreography, this is a production which is class throughout.
Company, truly shines like a jewel of the musical theatre, a true beacon in the North East and you would be foolish not to grab a ticket while you still can, that way you too can be Side by Side with Company.
Castlegate Arts in association with David Adkin Presents “Company” Aberdeen Arts Centre, runs until Sunday 10th February 2018 for tickets go to: www.aberdeenartscentre.com/company–thurs-1st—sat-10th-feb-2018-382-c.asp