Company | Theater Reviews + Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper
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Speaking of the hellacious musical-theater process: Legend has it that during the torturous out-of-town leg of the Stephen Sondheim/George Firth musical Company, Larry Kert, in the middle of a grueling rehearsal, stepped down to the footlights and yelled: "Who do I have to screw to get out of this show?"

If Homeless' Dimond and Polak are in need of comfort, they might be happy to hear that although this show -- about a single man in Manhattan and the five married couples who are his friends -- won the Tony for new musical in 1970, each time a revival is staged Sondheim and Firth are still rewriting parts of it.

I have to say that of Sondheim's work, Company isn't my favorite. Firth's book, in its time revolutionary for its nonlinear plot and focus on the ambivalence of its lead character, never really comes together for me. And no matter which version I see, I never buy the end, when Bobby puts away that ambivalence and moves toward, supposedly, maturity.

On the other hand, there are few musicals with a score this phenomenal: "Getting Married Today," "Another Hundred People," "You Could Drive a Person Crazy" and, of course, the blistering "Ladies Who Lunch." It doesn't, believe me, get better than this.

And when it comes to a community-theater production, I don't think it can get better than this tight, focused and funny production from Stage 62. My hat's off to this stand-out cast, far too numerous to mention by name, unfortunately, and the extraordinary work from musical director Matt Thomas, with Andrew Peters conducting an incredible pit orchestra.

Ultimately, however, the lion's share of credit goes to director Rob James, who locates the show's staccato pulse and drives it with a ruthless, urgent pace. On the down side, I wasn't crazy about James' choice to place the usually off-stage chorus on stage in all the scenes, which makes it seem as if the many New York apartments in the show have been infested by Pips. And the second act isn't near as strong as the first.

But these missteps only serve to put out the absolute "rightness" of James, the company and Company.

Company continues through Sun., July 29. Andrew Carnegie Free Library Music Hall, 300 Beechwood Ave., Carnegie. 412-429-6262

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