Monday, July 13, 2015

"Company" ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

The most amazing thing about Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's "Company," playing for a good chunk of the summer at San Francisco Playhouse, is that the show is forty-five years old but feels perfectly honest today. Sondheim's lyrics astonish you with their incisive wit, as always, and though his music feels a bit dated, in a Burt Bacharach-y soft-jazzy kind of way, the songs continue to have the same power as they had when the show won six Tonys in 1970, including Best Musical.

If you ever have any questions about marriage, listen to "Grateful-Sorry." From the heart, and also from the craft of the consummate songwriter, there are few songs in the entire canon that cut to the core like this one. Thankfully, the show has several lighthearted songs too, including the more famous "Marry Me A Little," "Barcelona" and of course the anthem to New York: "A Hundred Other People."

This SFP production has many wonderful things about it. We particularly enjoyed Teresa Attridge as Marta, Velina Brown as Sarah, Christoper Reber as Harry, Ryan Drummond as David, and of course Monique Hafen as Amy, whose tongue-twisting "Getting Married Today" is a comedic standout.

Bill English and Jacquelyn Scott designed an eye-popping set and Susi Damilano's direction was almost enough to counter the lack of space for the dance sequences to pay off as they might on a larger stage, given a cast this size. We love the intimacy of the scaled-down two-piano music, much the same as SFP did with My Fair Lady in the old building. Congratulations to San Francisco Playhouse for taking a chance with an undertaking of this size. It pays off in just about every way.

RATINGS: ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

 The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division, specializing in Musical Theatre, awards "Company" FOUR STARS. Show, direction, singing and acting each merit one star. If the dancing smooths out later in the run the production will be even stronger.

San Francisco Playhouse
2d Floor of Kensington Park Hotel
450 Post St., San Francisco
Through Sept. 12

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