Company

Film
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
BACHELOR NO. 1 Bobby (Esparza) ponders his fate.
Photograph: Joe Sinnott—Thirteen/Wnet BACHELOR NO. 1 Bobby (Esparza) ponders his fate.

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Stephen Sondheim buffs—an extremely picky lot—were by and large delighted by the Tony-winning 2006 revival of his groundbreaking 1970 musical, which PBS’s Great Performances helpfully captured for future generations (and/or anyone who finds Broadway too expensive). The masterfully blasé Raúl Esparza is superb as ur-bachelor Bobby, who weighs the pros and cons of singledom while navigating a series of encounters with his married friends as he stands at the verge of 35. (In a postscript interview, Sondheim suggests the whole show takes place in Bobby’s head during a period of seconds as he lingers at the door of a surprise party.)

Songs such as “Another Hundred People” (knocked out of the park by Angel Desai), “Marry Me a Little” and the Act II opener, “Side by Side by Side/What Would We Do Without You?” make Company one of the definitive works about male relationship angst, and Sondheim’s lyrics are as timeless as George Furth’s book is dated (even after a 1990s text revision). The TV version of the revival would have benefitted from an empty house—the laughter from the audience at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre often feels mannered and obligatory. Dialogue-heavy portions of the musical (mostly in the opening act) drag a little on the small screen, but the straightforward, flashiness-free directing for TV by Lonny Price adds an electricity to moments such as Barbara Walsh’s dynamite version of “The Ladies Who Lunch,” which smokes even the endlessly relistenable cast album.

—Andrew Johnston

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