Phone rings, door chimes, in comes “Company” in Detroit. The revival of “Company” ran at the Fisher Theatre from Oct. 17 to Oct. 29, and it certainly left an impression on the audience. “Company” first opened on Broadway in 1970 with music and lyrics by late composer Stephen Sondheim (“Into the Woods”) and has been revived several times, most recently in London. The London revival took on a twist: It changed the lead role of Bobby to Bobbie, a woman, and made all three love interests men. The production moved to Broadway in 2021 before beginning a national tour of the United States in 2023.
The tour is helmed by Britney Coleman, Ann Arbor native and University of Michigan alum, in the lead role as Bobbie, who guides the plot through a brilliant portrayal of the struggle of getting older while looking for love. Coleman prepared for the role as an understudy in the Broadway run and has starred since the tour began.
“Company” centers around Bobbie’s 35th birthday as a bachelorette in New York City who is friends with married couples. It seems to her that everyone hates their marriage, but she still faces personal and societal pressure to settle down and get married.
The idea of marriage as a necessity as one gets older was relevant when this show was first performed in 1970, but many may find that it does not hold up as well today. Luckily, this production does not feel dated. The setting is updated to the present, which does not take a lot to achieve, given that the show is centered on relationships rather than any time period or technology. The show is modernized with updated props such as newer phones. The gender swapped characters also do a lot to keep the story fresh for a new audience fifty years later.
This revival took big steps toward crafting a unique identity from past productions. Aside from the character changes, the show brands itself with memorable set design. Designer Bunny Christie (“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”) sets almost every scene in a literal box to distinguish the different sets and situations. The boxes have thick, brightly colored outlines that draw the audience’s attention and leave them remembering the scenes for more than just the songs and performances. Christie won both a Tony Award and Olivier Award for the set design in this production.
Matt Rodin’s (“Rent”) performance as the love interest Jamie, originally Amy, was an absolute show stealer. This is most evident in his performance of what is possibly “Company’s” most iconic number: “Getting Married Today.” Rodin held the audience captive and kept up with Sondheim’s complicated lyrics and timing in his memorable performance of the iconic scene.
Though “Company” has moved on from Detroit, the party is long from over. Anybody who relates to the struggle of growing older and looking for love will still have the chance to meet the company of “Company” on tour through August 2024.
Daily Arts Writer William Castle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.