"Company" is about relationships you can relate to, and that's what makes it so funny.
"Company" is the Vail Valley Theatre Company's fall production, which opens tonight. The musical comedy is about the wonders and terrors of the opposite sex. Consider Robert, a bachelor in New York City who's trying to answer that age-old question, "Are you the opposite sex, or am I?"
"Company" is a delightful musical romp through Robert's (played by Lance Schober) 35th birthday. His friends, most of them married and all of them couples, throw him a surprise party. They don't know each other, they just know him. He knows about it because of a careless message left by one of those friends, the neurotic Amy (played by Didi Doolittle).
Robert tries to blow out the candles but they stay lit. It's all right, someone cries, he still gets his wish.
But what is his wish? To get married? Or not? And to whom? Or not?
"It has something everyone in a relationship can relate to," said director/choreographer Beth Swearingen. "You'll either see yourself or someone you know."
The legendary Stephen Sondheim composed the music. "Company" is based on a series of 11 one-act plays by George Furth.
The Vail Valley Theatre Company adapted it to the stage at Homestake Peak School in Eagle-Vail. The set is minimal, so it doesn't distract the audience from the stage. Dean Davis, technical director for the Vilar Center, is the technical director for "Company."
Musical director Taylor Kundolf put the musicians on stage with the performers.
"It's more like a concert setting," Swearingen said.
'A regular Joe'
Schober is pitch perfect as Robert. You'll remember Schober as Dr. Frank N. Furter in "The Rocky Horror Show," as Picasso and as Don Quixote - all flamboyant characters.
"The character is a little more challenging because I'm playing a regular Joe," Schober said. "I have to tone some of that back, but still make Robert memorable."
Charis Patterson returns to the stage, this time as Joanne, a sarcastic and biting delight. She belts out one of the signature songs, "The Ladies Who Lunch."
Nicole Whitaker is Marta, one of Robert's three girlfriends.
Fran Gustafson joins the crew for "Company." Heather Lemon steps in front of the footlights as a sweet Southern Belle named Sarah, who's in a happy and romantic divorce.
"Company" provides lots of laughs, both high brow and low brow.
There's a scene where a group sits around and gets stoned. Then there's the wife who's more than a little passive/aggressive.
Everyone is trying to pair Robert off with someone, and each of the deeply envious men has found someone perfect for a night of pleasure or two. When you can have that, they chorus, why would you want to get married ("Have I Got a Girl For You")?
"Community theater is really for the community to come out and support, but also to be a part of. It's a great way to come out and beat the boards," Swearingen said. "I encourage anyone who's even a little bit interested to come out and get involved."
The production doesn't look difficult for the same reasons everything done well doesn't appear difficult.
"This is a show I've wanted to do forever. 'Company' is one of Stephen Sondheim's best musicals," Schober said. "It's something people can relate to, whether they're single or married."
"When it all comes together, it's magic," Schober said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.