TRIP SLAYMAKER ’18
When Company premiered on Broadway in 1970, it was seen as a new kind of musical. The legendary Stephen Sondheim wanted his musical to be catchy and jubilant while still wrestling with the doubt and insecurities of marriage. Company’s large cast and intricate lyrics make it both extremely difficult to perform and hugely popular. Trinity College’s own production of the Sondheim classic premiered to a sold-out Garmany Hall Thursday, Oct. 27.
Company tells the story of 35-year-old single man Bobby (Christopher Perkowski ’18), who spends his time exclusively with his married friends. Bobby’s youthful energy and independence refreshes the settling couples, all of whom dote on their single friend, or secretly pine for him. The show tends away from a rigidly defined plot, instead choosing to place Bobby into a series of vignettes shared with each couple in the circle of friends.
As the only unattached character, the role of Bobby is tasked with carrying much of what psychological weight the show is able to offer. Perkowski wisely played the character as a kind of chameleon, taking on new dimensions and tones depending on the other characters in any given scene. His strong, operatic singing voice and Boy Scout-theatricality made for an excellent counterweight for the remainder of the cast.
Company’s greatest strength lies in its collective voice. No individual cast member was able to exceed the energy that came from scenes that featured the entire cast. Though truly impressive musical skill was not universal to the cast, their harmonizing sound was warm and enthralling. The unfailing rhythm of the show’s instrumentalists gave an essential vibrancy to the music that could never have been achieved with recorded sound. These moments in the performance were among the most impressive in Trinity’s recent musical memory.
As Bobby pays visits to his married friends, he must come to grips with his own marital future or the lack thereof. Sarah and Harry, played by Lehlabile Davhana ’19 and Jack Lynch ’18 respectively are the first to be profiled: both actors were spellbinding and lively in their work, emoting and drawing laughs from the audience with relaxed precision. That feeling of a relaxed social environment persisted through Bobby’s exchanges with couple Susan and Peter (Casey Hearl ’20 and Ansel Burn ’20) but is subtly paired with a sense of lethargy and disappointment. The Husbands of the musical sing together about their conflicting emotions of regret and gratefulness, only confusing Bobby further.
Cooper Jennings ’19 and Pauline Choquet ’19 bring still more of this hidden doubt to their outwardly lighthearted conversation with Bobby. These actors, in particular, have a gift for threading simple foundational flaws into their characters, which help to ground them in the reality of the scene.
In the midst of these visits, three of Bobby’s girlfriends are introduced. The three actors, (Julia Adrian ’20, Kristina Kurker ’20, and Alexa Serowik ’20) perform together and individually with balance and personal character. Each performance had obvious merit, but special mention is deserved by Adrian, whose vocals as Bobby’s neglected date Marta, exceeded the requirements of the role.
Lydia Haynes ’18 could only have been instrumental to the final incarnation of Company. Haynes performed in the role of Joanne, wife of Larry (Daniel Bauloye ’20) and also devised the choreography for several prominent scenes. These choreographed dances stood out from the rest of the show as daring and intricate. But it is Haynes’ performance as the embittered wife of a wealthy third husband that draws acclaim. In her drunkenness, Joanne is a heartbreaking and comical character. Haynes, perfectly cast, was somehow able to translate the edges and roughness of the character into an over-the-top physicality of resentment. Joanne’s finale performance of “The Ladies Who Lunch” smoldered at first, until Haynes’ vocals lifted it into full-tilt melodrama.
Company’s final couple is Amy and Paul (Diana Rose Smith ’19 and Michael Zarra ’19) whom Bobby visits on their wedding day. Paul, played with calculated dopiness by Zarra, thinks that everything is as it should be. His fiancée, however, is having cold feet. Smith’s work as the panicked and verbose bride required a perfect mastery of Sondheim’s breakneck speeds, not to mention an impeccable grasp of physical comedy.
As a show, Company sometimes lacks the uniformity, purpose and clarity of plot that might feel absent in another setting. But because so much of the play is situational, the success of the show rested squarely on individual performances, as well as group compatibility. Using interconnectedness as a great resource, the cast was able to show off their chemistry and harmonize beautifully in voices and personalities. With the added benefit of some truly stellar individual performances, Company proved itself to be a college musical of the highest quality.
TRIP SLAYMAKER ’18