Last week, the Department of Theatre and Dance produced one of Stephen Sondheim’s most iconic musicals, “Company” on the small stage at L. Howard Fox Theatre.
“Company” is about Robert, a single man in his mid 30s, struggling to find his place within the company of his married friends during the early 1970s in Manhattan, New York. He is repealed by the thought of marriage. Unable to emotionally connect with the women he dates, Robert does not see the need for marriage unless for a one-night stand. However, the pressure of not living up to the social norm eventually drives him to seek companions in the lowest of places causing him to create an even bigger void in his life.
Montclair State University’s rendition of “Company” was simply a delightful treat. The actors, especially Daniel Fullerton who played Robert, did a wonderful job at bringing to life the struggles that one might face within a marriage.
However, while Fullerton was the main character, he was not the star of the show. Allison Scott, who played the lovely and conflicted Amy, stole the show with her vocal performance in “Getting Married Today.” This song has a European court tradition sound that is common in some of Sondheim’s music. However, unlike his other songs, this song is much more difficult to sing. The beat of the song is fast and heavy as the orchestra tries to keep up with Scott rapidly singing the lyrics.
This type of singing is often referred to as verbal diarrhea because the singer sounds like she or he is talking but doing it at a faster pace than usual. The audience lost themselves in a fit of laughter as Scott crawled on the stage floor and briskly sung about leaving her lover and not getting married on her wedding day.
Underneath the quirky jokes and laughter, there was an undeniable sadness about the musical. It illustrated the human need to want the “company” of someone else and sacrificing love to do so. The marriages of Robert’s friends were an example of this as the audience got a glimpse of their relationships. Their marriages were not perfect, but that was the beauty of them. The musical removed the glitter and façade that marriage might seem to be from the outside looking in and showed the struggles and hardships people endure.
Along with the sadness and jokes, there were plenty of singing and dancing scenes. The choreographer, Todd L. Underwood, did a wonderful job incorporating ballet into the performance of “Tick Tock,” while also adding jazz moves to both “Side By Side By Side” and “What Would We Do Without You?” Only a few props were used for the dance scenes, allowing the actors to shine in their tap shoes without any distractions in their way.
It should be said that the end of the musical left the audience curious and wanting more. This musical did not end on a happy note, but it did not end on a sad one either. It allowed the audience to come to their own conclusion on what awaits Robert’s present and future, which made it even more appealing to watch.