Marianne Elliott’s highly anticipated production of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s musical comedy, Company, has opened to rave reviews at the Gielgud Theatre in London.
Elliot’s production reimagines the lead role of “Bobby” for the first time as a woman, played by Rosalie Craig.
Broadway legend Patti Lupone ‘steals the show’ according to Paul Taylor from the Independent as she downs another vodka stinger in the role of Joanne, with Mel Giedroyc (Mel & Sue, GBBO) putting her comic-passive-aggressive jujitsu skills to the test as Sarah and rising star Jonathan Bailey (W1A, Broadchurch, King Lear) singing one of toughest songs in showbiz ‘Getting Married Today’.
Ingenious, eye-popping design is by the award-winning Bunny Christie, with lighting by Neil Austin and inventive choreography by Liam Steel.
The cast also features George Blagden, Ashley Campbell, Richard Fleeshman, Alex Gaumond, Richard Henders, Ben Lewis, Daisy Maywood, Jennifer Saayeng, Matthew Seadon-Young and Gavin Spokes.
Read a round-up of reviews below.
The Guardian, 4 stars
“Sex-switch Sondheim proves a heavenly fling.
Company is one of the great grown-up musicals. However, where Harold Prince’s 1970 production was vertical, Elliott’s is horizontal. The original had a split-level chrome and Plexiglas set that captured the frenzy, anxiety and isolation of life in Manhattan.
Company was the first musical I saw on Broadway and has always had a special place in my affections. It is gratifying to see it not just being revived but also intelligently reimagined.”
Michael Billington, The Guardian
The Telegraph, 5 stars
“Gender-switched Sondheim proves a sublime down-the-rabbit-hole cocktail of entertainment.
This is astonishing in so many ways it feels as if you’re hemmed in by reasons to cheer. Marianne Elliott’s re-imagining of Stephen Sondheim’s landmark experimental 1970 musical (with skittish book by George Furth) reboots a modern classic for the Tinder age. It’s sensational. But it might not have worked.
Yes, Sondheim is a known genius, Elliott one of our finest directors. And, sure, there’s something inevitable – given our identity-fluid times – about taking the pivotal role of Bobby, a sexy, unattached New Yorker contemplating the hazards (and rewards) of coupledom as he hits 35, and – hey presto – gender-switching it.”
Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
Independent, 4 stars
“Broadway legend Patti LuPone gives another stand-out performance as Joanne, the moneyed lush who can’t credit that her husband genuinely loves her and whose wisecracks are lethal weapons.
This intrepid production does impart the kind of frisson you suspect audiences felt seeing Company the first time around.
Neil Austin’s excellent lighting and Bunny Christie’s sliding neon-rimmed rooms, painted in a creepily elegant, monochrome grey, add to the impression that we are inside Bobbie’s head.”
Paul Taylor, The Independent
The Stage, 5 stars
“Stephen Sondheim and Marianne Elliott unite for an astonishing reinvention of a classic musical.
Marianne Elliott has gone beyond that. Her neon-flooded, gender-bended production is more a reinvention than a revival – and it’s a revelation. Bobby, male in the original, is female Bobbie here.
The show feels like it could have been written yesterday, rather than 48 years ago, and is contemporary right down to the Starbucks keep-cups that characters drink from. Every modification makes sense, and finds a new resonance.
What do you call a revival that makes a show seem brand new? Company 2018 is more than a clever concept.
Elliott has managed to take a 48-year-old musical that spoke to its time and made it speak precisely to us, now.”
Tim Bano, The Independent
Evening Standard, 5 stars
”Stephen Sondheim’s musical comedy dates from 1970, but in Marianne Elliott ’s production — not so much a revival as a complete reimagining — it feels wonderfully fresh.
Elliott has brought a finely crafted unity to a show that has previously resembled a series of sketches. It’s surprising, sexy and clever.
One highlight is Patti LuPone ’s witheringly dry phrasing as the worldly-wise Joanne. Another is Sarah and Harry (Mel Giedroyc and Gavin Spokes) practising a hilarious form of marital jiu-jitsu in their living room.
The ingenuity of Bunny Christie’s neon-lit design is typical of a staging that always feels precision-engineered. But even as it pops with vitality and dazzles with its wit, this is a take on Company that savours Sondheim’s subtleties. In short, it’s glorious.”
Henry Hitchins, Evening Standard
Daily Mail, 4 stars
”Sondheim revamped with a gender bender twist.
Yet another old show has been warmed up with gender bending.
In places the score is evocative of Burt Bacharach, with less of the melodic stop-and-start found in later Sondheim.
The episodic nature of the story keeps the action varied and Patti LuPone shows her vocal chops with the song The Ladies Who Lunch. She rather shows up some of the other singers.
For its snappy production values, for Getting Married Today and for the walnut-veneered luxury of Miss LuPone’s presence, as well as the inventiveness of the gender switching, it’s just about a four-star evening. But a show to admire rather than love.”
Quentin Letts, Evening Standard
Time Out, 5 stars
Rosalie Craig and Patti LuPone star in Marianne Elliott’s tour de force reworking of Sondheim’s sardonic musical.
Elliott’s production brilliantly underscores the existential nature of Sondheim’s lyrics and George Furth’s book.
Company is entertaining as hell. For starters, its cynical depiction of amoral New Yorkers screwing up their own lives is incredibly funny: ‘Seinfeld’ years before there was ‘Seinfeld’, and with much better songs.
Following the NT’s grandiose ‘Follies’ last year, this ‘Company’ is another easy case for the greatness of Sondheim, the man they literally call God. But a serious word for Marianne Elliott: she may not have killed Bobby-with-a-’y’ for good, but this production deserves to go down as a game-changer.”
Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out
Company is booking until 30 March 2019 at the Gielgud Theatre, London.
Average rating score for this production:
Date: 24 October 2018
Written by: Mark Wills
Tags: Company, Gielgud Theatre, Marianne Elliott, Patti LuPone, review round-up, Rosalie Craig, Stephen Sondheim