I'm a freelance actor, travel writer, photographer, foodie and attention seeker living in the lower North Shore. Check out my blog at www.emmajaneexplores.com for more.
What do you want to get married for?
Marriage is something that society tells us we should aspire to, but is it all its cracked up to be? This is the central question posed in Stephen Sondheim's Company, which revolves around perennial bachelor Robert on his 35th birthday. Throughout a series of vignettes, the show explores Robert's relationships with his married friends and his three girlfriends as he ponders what marriage could mean for him.
It is my first show at the former Depot Theatre Company's new home at Limelight on Oxford and the venue is a lovely cabaret-style performance space with a fantastic front of house area. The performance space itself is incredibly intimate, which posed a bit of a challenge in this production with a cast of 14 all on stage most of the time, but for smaller cast shows, the space has a fantastic, cosy vibe to it.
Julie Baz writes in her director's bio that this is her first foray into directing musical theatre, but this production belies a debut. Baz's direction is cohesive and navigates the non-linear narrative well with a clearly talented cast. Antonio Fernandez's musical direction is clean and tight with the highlights of the show coming with the exceptional ensemble work in group numbers. As the cast are without amplification, there are some challenges achieving a balance between the vocalists and the band in some solo sections. Tracey Blankenship's choreography is extremely clever and uses the small performing space well.
David Jeffrey's set design has some challenges due to the size of the stage space. The decision to place a large, red and mostly immovable couch front and centre makes dance numbers a challenge and I'd question the need to also have a bed onstage - perhaps a movable futon that could serve both purposes could have helped the production gain some space back. His New York terrace setting, though, gives a fantastic sense of a NYC balcony.
Brendan Paul has the task of tackling the central character, Robert. Paul's age is a bit of a challenge here, as his boyish face doesn't really convey a 35 year old man, but he does have the right charisma for the role. Vocally, he has some great moments, but there are some patchy notes particularly at the higher end of his range. Heather Campbell absolutely steals the show as neurotic Amy and her rendition of Not Getting Married has the audience in stitches. Michele Lansdown's smarmy, cynical Joanne gets some of the best one liners in the show and Lansdown makes the most of them. Richard Woodhouse and Jacqui Greenfield are adorable as slightly nuts husband and wife team Harry and Sarah, with a particular highlight being their karate scene.
Emily Dreyer shows off her fantastic dancing talent in the number Tick Tock, expertly navigating the stage with her commanding presence. Grace Driscoll has all the right energy for Marta, and though her voice lacks a bit of punch in her solo number, she has the kind of stage presence where it's impossible to look anywhere else when she's on stage. Ileana Pipitone is sweet as the oddball flight attendant, April, although a few of the jokes in her scenes don't quite land.
As a cast, the fourteen actors gel nicely for the duration of the two and a half hour performance, each relishing their solo moments and clearly enjoying the ensemble sections. For a first attempt at a musical, Limelight on Oxford have done a solid job and I look forward to further forays into this medium in future seasons.