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HALL OF FAMEon April 7, 2010
2010 marks Stephen Sondheim's 80th birthday, so what could be a better time to be looking back on one of his greatest and most personal musicals. COMPANY is a "concept musical" in the best sense of the word, where the songs act more as vignettes than form a scene-to-scene story. The cast, headed by Dean Jones and Elaine Stritch, has never been truly bettered.

Dean Jones, in his brief time as Bobby, displayed for the first time his rich and soulful singing voice. After years playing the goofy leads in Disney comedies like "The Love Bug", "Monkeys Go Home" and "That Darn Cat", Jones established himself as a bright new Broadway star to be reckoned with. His renditions of "Someone is Waiting" as well as the life-affirming "Being Alive" are fantastic. Dealing with a painful divorce and unable to commit himself for a long stay in New York, Jones was replaced, very early into the show's run by Larry Kert (Kert's recording of "Being Alive" is included as a bonus track).

The supporting cast is headed by Elaine Stritch as Joanne, the sardonic older woman who sings the masterful "Ladies who Lunch" (still yet to be equalled). Beth Howland, as kooky Amy, tackles the difficult patter-song "Getting Married Today" with jaw-dropping gusto. Pamela Myers, in her Tony-nominated role as Marta, sings a mean rendition of "Another Hundred People". The rest of the cast (Barbara Barrie, Charles Kimbrough, Merle Louise, Charles Cunningham, Teri Ralston, George Coe, Steve Elmore, Charles Braswell, Donna McKechnie, Susan Browning, Cathy Corkill, Carol Gelfand, Marilyn Saunders and Dona D. Vaughn) all hold their own.

Stephen Sondheim certainly created what is considered one of his most polished and questioning scores, including "Barcelona" (one of the best ever "morning after" songs), "Have I Got a Girl For You", "Sorry-Grateful", "Poor Baby" and the dance arrangement for "Tick-Tock", which provided a showcase for the galvanising dance talents of Donna McKechnie (who would go on to create the role of Cassie in the original cast of A CHORUS LINE).

This is a re-print of the previous 1999 Broadway Masterworks pressing, in a new eco-pack cardboard sleeve.
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on July 17, 2011
There have been revivals of "Company" and recordings of those revivals but nothing comes close to the original. This is the absolute best!!! To say that "Company" was a landmark musical is no exageration. When it opened in NY in the very early 70's it was a total original. There had never been anything quite like it. Buy this one, not the versions that followed.
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on November 15, 2013
I saw the original production of "Company" on my first trip to New York in the spring of 1980. By then, Larry Kert had replaced Dean Jones, but I saw the rest of the original cast, including the incomparable Elaine Stritch. Everybody has their own opinion about who does the best version of key songs, so I'll weigh in and say that Stritch brings a raw pain to "Ladies" that no one else has. I like Raul Esparza's version of "Being Alive," but Dean Jones' version has stuck in my head ever since I came home and ran out to buy the original cast recording. It is one of the most moving renditions I've ever heard.

In some ways "Company" has aged, which is evident in the recent version made with Neil Patrick Harris. Most of of Marta's speech ("How many Puerto Ricans do you know? How many Jews?" etc.) has been cut, losing most of its humor, and some of the vignettes with the married couples seem dated. Still, there is so much fun and verve in numbers like "You Could Drive a Person Crazy" and Beth H's. rendition of "Getting Married Today."

I am very pleased to have the original in my hands again (I lost the original LP in a move), along with the bonus of Larry Kert's version of "Being Alive."
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...These people really want to escape that world when they go to the theater, and then here we are with COMPANY talking about how we're going to bring it right back in their faces." So said Stephen Sondheim about his breakthrough 1970 musical COMPANY, though in the intervening fortysome years this innovative show that dispensed with the usual boy-gets-girl book and was derided by some critics as "caustic" has become much less of a menace and much more of a classic, and its concern with the necessity of marriage and side themes of big-city alienation and interpersonal relationships were treated often in future plays.

Here's a chance to hear the songs as Sondheim and company wished them to be heard, in an original cast recording that caught actor/singer Dean Jones in the central role of "Bobby," shortly before he left the show and was replaced by Larry Kert. Such songs as "Another Hundred People" (sung by Pamela Myers), the slightly dissonant post-coital duet "Barcelona," Beth Howland's frenetic "Getting Married Today," Elaine Stritch's impishly waspish "The Little Things You Do Together" and of course her landmark "Ladies Who Lunch" are all here, among others. A bonus final track gives us Larry Kert's take on "Being Alive," should you wish to compare his version to Dean Jones's. COMPANY was an early album to be recorded in digital process; thus it bears the DDD Spars code and sounds great.

Related material: There's a DVD about the recording itself but it is bitterly expensive. The visual aspect is nice in two more recent revivals caught on DVD, but in my opinion the singing is not up to snuff: the Raul Garza vid is a little too minimalist and measured, and the one featuring Neil Patrick Harris is a one-off stuffed with TV personalities whose acting was perky, but whose singing not as crisp or swift as in this 1970 recording. All told, this CD of COMPANY is a great musical at a good price that also heralds Stephen Sondheim's return to theatrical success, as FOLLIES, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC and others to come in the 1970s attest. This is still the best CD of COMPANY. Highly recommended.

Company: A Musical Comedy;
Company (Stephen Sondheim).
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on February 19, 2015
This performance has so much going for it - the electricity and cohesiveness of a vocal ensemble and orchestra playing live in the studio (a lost art, unfortunately), with the advantage of the composer, producer and playwright's supervision, and a commitment from the performers to put down something for posterity in an 18-hour session. Watch the Pennebaker documentary of the recording, if you're unsure.
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on November 13, 2014
You'll always be what you always were
Which has nothing to do with
All to do with her.

One overarching antithesis of this show- which is rife with antitheses ("Sorry Grateful," "Getting Married Today," which has the lyric: "Thank you all, but I'm NOT getting married / Clear the hall, 'cause I'm not getting married... today.")- is that it is revolutionary-traditional. Here we are at the end of the sixties, and the husbands are sending the swinging girls Bobby's way-

"She's the kind of girl you can't send through the mails.
Call me tomorrow I want the details,"

"Marriage may be where it was, but it's not where it's at"- but neither is COMPANY, really. What could be more pre-sexual revolution, more rat-packy, than the big band "Tick Tock" as a representation of sex?
And yet, "Tick Tock" is a rousing number, and the duet which follows, "Barcelona" is so sweet, so musical, and at the same time perfectly natural-
"Now you're angry." "No I'm not." "Yes you are."
Bobby begs the stewardess not to leave- until she agrees to stay, then.. three little words (OMG).

Which is neurotic at least. I think Sondheim naturally framed things as antitheses- it's how you write drama. It's how you write verse two. It's how you get an ironic twist on the last word- and it's usually brilliant. "Whaddaya want? You like getting meals cooked at home? Then whaddaya wanna get married for?"

This is a fascinating album which bears repeated listening. I haven't even mentioned "Little Things You Do Together," "Another Hundred People," "Ladies Who Lunch," "Side by Side by Side."

Thanks, Allen, for sending me this wonderful CD.
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on January 31, 2013
This takes you on a trip when a man realizes the good life, fast and free, may not end the way you want. It is a good lesson and this musical tells it and hits you with it and what fun you have getting taught. Very rousing music that once you hear it you will remember and go OH that one I know.
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on January 20, 2016
In a two year period,the greatest Broadway composer and lyricist of all time,Stephen Sondheim came up with "Company"," Follies",and"A Little Night Music"! Although,all are great,"Follies"is my favorite! Especially,the 1998 Paper Mill Playhouse version! "Company" is brilliant! I play this over and over again! Highlights include,the late,great Elaine Stritch singing "The Ladies Who Lunch", the late Dean Jones singing anything," Barcelona","Side by Side by Side,"always loved that guy,genuine,and a girl from my hometown Pamela Myers singing "Another Hundred People"! This is Broadway Royalty and a winner of six Tony Awards,including " Best Score","Best Musical",and of course,a Tony for Elaine Stritch! Buy it,wear it out! Sondheim is America's Royalty!
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on December 18, 2013
I had the privilege of playing the piano part of this marvelous musical for a college production in my younger days. I absolutely loved the experience. After watching the Oscar Hammerstein special on PBS, they interviewed Sondheim about his relationship with Hammerstein. Sondhem said that writing simple lyrics and songs like Hammerstein did was actually harder than writing complex songs.

He should know. The songs from Company are more complex, but just as endearing as Hammerstein's songs. The subject matter of Bobby having to live in two worlds and having to deal with divergent emotional conflicts probably required a different compositional technique. This is my favorite Sondheim musical.
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on December 20, 2013
I've listened to three versions of this musical and was able to view two. While I loved the 2006 Broadway Revival because of its innovative staging; this original 1970 Broadway Cast Recording is still the best. The singing is superb. I only knew Dean Jones for his work with the Disney Corporate and had no idea how perfect his voice is as Bobby. Sondheim is a difficult composer because of the range he puts singers through. In both the 2006 and the more recent version shown on PBS with Neil Patrick Harris, the singers hitting the very high range tended to shriek. But listen to Pamela Myers singing "Another Hundred People" and you'll know how it was meant to sung.
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