Company — Sondheim Musical Comedy at NTC

2017_company_8_group

From the Novato Theater Press Kit, we learn some general information about the current production of its successful 2016-2017 Season — the Stephen Sondheim/George Furth musical Company, which began its run March 24 and will continue through April 16 at the NTC Playhouse, 5420 Nave Drive, Suite C, Novato.

Company, the book, was written by George Furth, and the original musical comedy, with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, was directed on Broadway by Harold Prince.  The Novato Theater Company production is directed by Patrick Nims with Musical Director Andrew Klein and choreography by Kate Kenyon.  It is produced by Vicki Martinez.

2017_company_1_bobbyContinuing from the Press Kit, we are told Company is the story of Robert (Robert Nelson) a single man who is unable to fully commit to a steady relationship.  On his 35th birthday, he contemplates his unmarried state in vignette after hilarious vignette.

He weighs the pros and cons of married life as we are introduced to the women he is dating and those “good and crazy people,” his married friends.

NTC brings together a stellar cast and production crew for Company.  Director Nims won the Broadway World Best Director Award for NTC’s Fiddler on the Roof on which Kate Kenyon also worked.  Kenyon herself won Nomination for Best Choreography for NTC’s Dancing at Lughnasa, last season.  Company’s Musical Director Andrew Klein was also Musical Director for the recent musical production Into The Woods and wrote the original score for NTC’s December production of the Original A Christmas Carole — The Musical by the late Blanca Florido.

When we enter the theater for Company, we are greeted by the beautiful set created by Michael Walraven, consisting of a bar on Stage Right and a comfortable chair with foot stool Center Stage. Stage Left is a balcony with a descending stair case. As it’s Robert’s 35th birthday,  he is celebrating with a variety of friends — all wearing delightful costumes created by Marina Nims.  The effective lighting is by Electric Bill. Choreography is by Kate Kenyon, and the fight choreography by Steven Croft. Sound Design is by Simon Eves. The musicians Michael Evans (percussion) and Jeff Sherman (on bass) provide excellent accompaniment. The Sondheim music score is great because it’s edgy and takes nothing away from the performances.

The cast of this show necessarily brings a great deal of energy to the production.  The best thing about the cast is their tight ensemble work under the skillful direction of Patrick Nims.   The (shallow) plot is all about Robert!  He’s dating 3 women —  all at once!  April (Gillian Eichenberger) is an attractive and talented flight  attendant but not his intellectual equal.  Marta (Amanda Morando) is hippie-looking, and his third girlfriend is Kathy (Arielle Mandelberg). All three performances are excellent.

The couples who are friends with Robert have their own baggage, but they nevertheless help Robert be happy on his birthday.  Joanne (Paula Gianetti) needles Larry (Steve Beecroft) but there seems to be true attraction. The affection between David (Lorenzo Alviso) and Jenny (Jennifer Rodway) is genuine in spite of very different backgrounds.  Peter (Rusty Thompson) and Sarah (Amy Dietz) seem to be the ideal couple; however, they’re planning to divorce! The relationship between Susan (Sophia Ferrar) and Harry (Paul Hogarth) actually comes to blows, because she’s taking karate and is practicing on him.

2017_company_6_joanne_and_larry

 

Joanne’s charm steals the show. Gianetti plays her with spunk that’s delightful to behold. She brings down the house with her rendition of  “The Ladies Who Lunch.” She gives it all she’s got, and her gestures are sheer brilliance.

Another stand-out is Nicole Thordsen as Amy. She also has charm and a real sense of playfulness in this role, especially as she prepares to marry Paul (Cordell Wisselink) and sings “Getting Married Today.” She, along with Paula Gianetti and Robert Nelson are worth the trip to Novato!

2017_company_5_amy_and_paul

If it’s true that we’re all in the same boat seeking respite from “loneliness” in this existence, as a way to be better human beings, then I can’t think of anyplace to fill that bill better than to see Company — united with the purpose of convincing you could go to the Novato Theatre because Company is simply not to be missed.

Photography by Marina Nims

Company began its run March 24 and runs through April 16, 2017. Regular performances of Company are scheduled for Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday Matinees at 2:00 p.m. For tickets to Company order online at www.NovatoTheaterCompany.org (print out your ticket from the confirmation email).  If you’re unable to print out your ticket, your name will be on a list at the Box Office on your scheduled date at your scheduled time. The Box Office opens at 7:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Coming up for the final play of this NTC Season next at NTC  will be August: Osage County by Tracy Letts, from May 19 through June 4 by, Directed by Terry McGovern.

Flora Lynn Isaacson