Scotty Briggs Art, mural

Keeping Company at Orange Park Community Theater

Company, a 1970 musical comedy with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth, was among the first musicals to deal with adult themes and relationships and is not for young audiences (cautions on language and subject matter).  To quote Sondheim, “Broadway theater has been for many years supported by upper-middle-class people with upper-middle-class problems.  These people really want to escape that world when they go to the theatre, and then here we are with Company talking about how we’re going to bring it right back in their faces.”  The original production was nominated for a record-setting fourteen Tony Awards and won six.

Returning to the OPCT stage, Adam Fields portrays Robert in Company, a confirmed bachelor turning thirty-five. At the opening five married couples who are his best friends gather to wish Robert well at his “surprise party”.  The unfolding musical is vignettes of Robert with the various couples as well as his three girlfriends – not in any chronological order.  Mr. Fields carries the anchor role very well, then really shines in his closing song (“Being Alive”).

The first couple making an appearance is Harry (Geoff DuChemin), an alcoholic, and his perpetually-dieting wife Sarah (Tori Tompkins).  The audience can’t tell if each is truly in denial about the extent of their own addition or if they are outright lying to each other.  It culminates in a well-staged fight that had the audience roaring.

Next, Peter (Bryan Martins) and Susan (Erica Humbert) meet Robert on their apartment terrace. Robert tells them how much he admires them as the perfect couple, only for them to smilingly surprise him with news of their divorce.

Robert has brought some marijuana to share with the uptight Jenny (Kimberly Cadley-Mach) and laid-back David (Randall Tompkins). Jenny creates a funny pretense of being stoned while the two men more liberally partake.  When the couple starts quizzing Robert as to why he is still single, he claims he is not against marriage.  His three current girlfriends – Kathy (Julia Haley), Marta (Caroline Yazdiya), and April (Kiana Soriano) – appear to chastise Robert in a wonderfully done number about his reluctance to being committed (“You Could Drive a Person Crazy”).

Later in Company we get a better look at each of Robert’s girlfriends.  Marta (Caroline Yazdiya), a strong high-soprano, sings of the city: crowded, dirty, uncaring, yet wonderful (“Another Hundred People”) between scenes with the other girlfriends.  Robert first gets to know April, a slow-witted airline flight attendant. He coaxes her into bed with a fabricated ruse in a beautifully sung and cute duet in Act 2.

Robert previously dated Kathy (Julia Haley); both spontaneously admit each secretly considered marrying the other.  They laugh at this coincidence until Robert suddenly considers the idea seriously.  However, Kathy reveals she is engaged and leaving for Cape Cod.  Finally, he meets with Marta; she loves New York and babbles about NY’s diversity and how she can tell a New Yorker by his or her ass.

In a tour-de-force ending to Act 1, we go to the day of Amy (Izzy Hague) and Paul (Steven Amburgey)’s wedding.  Amy is in an overwhelming state of panic while Paul remains mellow.  Where Ms. Hague breathes is unknown during her meltdown of reasons why she is not “Getting Married Today”.

The only two not introduced as a couple until Act 2 are Joanne (Susan Roche) and Larry (Leonard Alterman).  They take Robert to a nightclub, where Larry dances while Joanne and Robert get drunk. She accuses Robert of watching life instead of living it.  She makes a mocking toast in “The Ladies Who Lunch“, passing judgment on various women wasting their lives, especially those just watching.  When Larry leaves to pay the check, Joanne invites Robert to her bed, assuring him that she will “take care of him”.  He replies, “But who will I take care of?” which strikes Joanne as “…a door opening that’s been stuck for a long time”.  Robert insists he has been open to marriage and commitment, but angrily questions, “What do you get?”

Director Tim DeBorde and Music Director Michelle DuChemin have assembled a talented cast that kept the show moving and the audience laughing.  The sets, costumes, and lighting were simple but effective.  Tickets are $25, although Saturdays have a Student rate (including children and college students) of $10. For reservations or information, go to www.opct.info, call 904-276-2599 or www.showtixnow.com.

OPCT is located at 2900 Moody Ave. in Orange Park.  Upcoming in their 50th anniversary season are two more classics:  The Night of January 16th (April) and Singing in the Rain (June).

About Cessy Newmon

october, 2021

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