Let’s Review! Bachelor Bobby’s in good ‘Company’ at Cygnet Theatre
By Diana Saenger
Cygnet Theatre’s chic set for Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” is quite impressive: the white furniture, convenient rolling bar and beautiful nightscape view of New York City beg to fulfill a creative story.
It’s quickly apparent that Robert (Andrew Wells), the bachelor who resides in the stylish apartment, is anything but content. He’s about to be bombarded by a sea of married couples — his friends, who, once again, want to wish him Happy Birthday. This time it’s his 35th, and the gang is rousing in song and dance about their “Bobby.”
Next we find Robert with two of his married friends, Sarah (Melissa Fernandes) and Harry (Andrew Oswald). The more Sarah tries to entertain Robert, the more questions he has while trying to decide if these two are happily married.
As the story moves along, Robert encounters the couples one on one and often discovers things he’s surprised to learn, such as, the giggly couple, Susan (Wendy Waddell) and Peter (Kürt Norby), are about to get a divorce. This puts more questions in Robert’s mind about commitment.
Several scenes are Broadway-style dance and song routines with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. While some of the songs seem a bit stilted, this cast creates solid performances and explains some of the responses Robert gets from his pals about marriage — “Good Things Get Better; and Bad Things Get Worse.”
As Robert decides he has too many things to accomplish before settling down, he attends Amy (Eileen Bowman) and Paul’s (Matthew Naegeli) wedding. This scene alone is worth a ticket to this show.
Amy is not sure she wants to be married. Robert enters the room with Paul, who is dressed for the wedding and singing how he gives Amy the rest of his life. Amy begins an “aside,” where she begins to converse with the audience supposedly without Paul or Robert hearing her. Bowman should have won an Academy Award for this performance. The small woman, dressed in her wedding gown, moans, makes amusing facial expressions, and spouts off rapid comments on why she does not want to “Get Married Today.”
Meanwhile, a heavenly choir above the room – made up of the other married women and led by Jenny (Athena Espinoza) – sings a beautiful operatic song. Amy continues to self-destruct, screeching about warm orange juice and burnt toast, and eventually falling down and dragging herself along the floor bemoaning her fate. Paul runs out into the rain.
Robert’s three girlfriends, Marta (Ashlee Mayer), Kathy (Mary Joe Duggan) and April (Katie Whalley) are introduced into the scenario, as are the others. Robert gets into pot-smoking giddyishness with Jenny and David (Andy Collins). Every time he’s around the cynical and biting Joanne (Linda Libby), she wants to seduce him because her third husband, Harry (David Kirk Grant), has become uninteresting.
Cygnet’s Artistic Director Sean Murray pulls off another successful Sondheim musical with “Company.” The show has a few humdrum moments, but overall, it’s hilarious, and I noticed audience members of all ages joyously laughing.
If you go
When: Matinees, evenings to Aug. 18
Where: Cygnet Theatre Company, Old Town Stage, 4040 Twiggs St., San Diego
Box Office: (619) 337-1525
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