By Beth Casteel
With realistic characters and a catchy score, this production is sure to leave you wanting to stay in the company of this cast of characters.
First premiering on Broadway in 1970, “Company” is a six-time Tony award winning musical. With lyrics and music done by Stephen Sondheim (known for musicals “Sweeny Todd” and “Into the Woods”) and the book by George Furth, “Company” has found great success and is now playing at the Allen Theatre until Nov. 5.
The story focuses on Robert, a man from New York who struggles with commitment as he tries to make sense of life and love. With the help of his best friends, five married couples who just want the best for him, we see short vignettes that chronicle the events of Robert’s 35th birthday.
With a catchy score and energetic performances throughout, the cast in this production bring the story to life. The cast’s delivery of the characters seem so natural, it’s easy to forget that you’re watching a play. That casual feeling can be attributed to the fact that the connection between the cast makes it feel as though they are a group of friends living in the city.
In Robert’s (Frank Ivancic) friend group, there are the five wives (Cheyenne Bizon, Sarah Blubaugh, Machala Comenschek, Brooke Myers and Elizabeth Stewart) and their husbands (Chace Coulter, Antonio DeJesus, Malik Jones, Steven Livingston and Eric Wloszek). The characters the cast portrayed have a close connection with one another that transfers onto the stage.
In addition to Robert’s friends, he also has three girlfriends (Bridgette Dona, Alexa Fatheringham and Elizabeth Samsa) throughout the production that showcase his inability to commit to a relationship.
The ensemble works hard to deliver the audience a realistic version of “Company.” Ivancic plays the personable Robert, a difficult feat considering Robert can be a somewhat unlikeable character. Thanks to the vignettes, each member of the cast gets their moment to shine during this production.
While the small scenes are happening, they are mixed with upbeat performances. Under the musical direction of Maria DiDonato and the dance advising of Lynn Deering, the cast perform Sondheim’s songs with great care.
There’s a meticulous eye for detail, ranging from the set design to costumes, every aspect of this play is accounted for. Costumes designed by Terry Pieritz help further set the tone of this musical. There’s a casual feel to the clothing that perfectly reflects the personalities of these characters.
Director and Scenic Designer Russ Borski creates a production that will instantly take you into their world. There are two levels of the set, with steel and glass being prominent features of the stage design. There’s a modern and industrial feel to the design that is further accented from lighting done by Dennis Dugan.
The Cleveland State Dance and Theater’s performance of “Company” is a well thought out and detailed production that will leave you wanting more.
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