Sondheim's most questioning, life-affirming score
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 04/08/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"2010 marks Stephen Sondheim's 80th birthday, so what could be a better time to be looking back on one of his greatest and most personal musicals. COMPANY is a "concept musical" in the best sense of the word, where the songs act more as vignettes than form a scene-to-scene story. The cast, headed by Dean Jones and Elaine Stritch, has never been truly bettered.
Dean Jones, in his brief time as Bobby, displayed for the first time his rich and soulful singing voice. After years playing the goofy leads in Disney comedies like "The Love Bug", "Monkeys Go Home" and "That Darn Cat", Jones established himself as a bright new Broadway star to be reckoned with. His renditions of "Someone is Waiting" as well as the life-affirming "Being Alive" are fantastic. Dealing with a painful divorce and unable to commit himself for a long stay in New York, Jones was replaced, very early into the show's run by Larry Kert (Kert's recording of "Being Alive" is included as a bonus track).
The supporting cast is headed by Elaine Stritch as Joanne, the sardonic older woman who sings the masterful "Ladies who Lunch" (still yet to be equalled). Beth Howland, as kooky Amy, tackles the difficult patter-song "Getting Married Today" with jaw-dropping gusto. Pamela Myers, in her Tony-nominated role as Marta, sings a mean rendition of "Another Hundred People". The rest of the cast (Barbara Barrie, Charles Kimbrough, Merle Louise, Charles Cunningham, Teri Ralston, George Coe, Steve Elmore, Charles Braswell, Donna McKechnie, Susan Browning, Cathy Corkill, Carol Gelfand, Marilyn Saunders and Dona D. Vaughn) all hold their own.
Stephen Sondheim certainly created what is considered one of his most polished and questioning scores, including "Barcelona" (one of the best ever "morning after" songs), "Have I Got a Girl For You", "Sorry-Grateful", "Poor Baby" and the dance arrangement for "Tick-Tock", which provided a showcase for the galvanising dance talents of Donna McKechnie (who would go on to create the role of Cassie in the original cast of A CHORUS LINE).
This is a re-print of the previous 1999 Broadway Masterworks pressing, in a new eco-pack cardboard sleeve."