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Company (2006 Broadway Revival Cast)

4.1 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 20, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Maverick British director John Doyle, a 2006 Tony Award winner, enjoyed a surprise Broadway hit last year with his radical reworking of Sweeney Todd. He dispensed with the pit orchestra and handed all the instruments over to his on-stage performers, who doubled as musicians in between their turns acting and singing. Doyle has taken a similarly unorthodox approach to his revival of another Stephen Sondheim classic, the revered yet notoriously difficult to stage Company. As with Sweeney Todd, the results of this theatre-as-concert have entranced both critics and audiences. Linda Winer of Newsday called it "the very best revival that Broadway has ever seen of Stephen Sondheim's landmark 1970 musical."Variety described it as "striking, revelatory and thoroughly compelling." For Sondheim fans, the recorded score to Company has long been as much an object of adoration as the six-time Tony-winning play itself. Company on disc functions as a deeply moving song cycle, even apart from George Furth's libretto, about the vicissitudes of marriage and the joys and trials of the single life, seen through the eyes of the coolly dispassionate Manhattan bachelor Bobby on the occasion of his 35th birthday. This is truly the stuff of sex and the city - wry, sophisticated, painfully honest and deeply melancholy, even in a comic seducing-the-stewardess duet like "Barcelona." As with Sweeney Todd, which featured a bravura performance from lead actor Michael Cerveris, Doyle has found in rising star Raúl Esparza (Cabaret, Taboo, The Normal Heart) an extraordinary singer and actor who, in the words of the New York Times' Ben Brantley, gives Company "the most compelling center it has probably ever had." "Mr. Doyle and his invaluable music supervisor and orchestrator, Mary-Mitchell Campbell, have shaped Company into a sort of oratorio for the church of the lonely," says Brantley. He also praises the work of the entire ensemble - playing five married couples, three single women and one deeply ambivalent, unmarried man: "It's their work as a team that sounds new depths in Company in ways that get under your skin without your knowing it." Variety's David Rooney concurs: "Angel Desai's `Another Hundred People' nails that quintessential New York song; Heather Laws lands every laugh in the mile-a-minute `Getting Married Today' with amazing speed and clarity; and Barbara Walsh is bone-dry as brittle, world-weary Joanne. She reveals the emotional hunger beneath the character's hard shell and adds fresh nuances to `The Ladies Who Lunch,' a song indelibly associated with Elaine Stritch." As Time Out New York put it, "Sondheim's expert musical etchings, his acid craftsmanship, remain unmatched." Sondheim fans will note that this new version of Company, to be released by Nonesuch and PS Classics, restores the original act one closer, "Marry Me A Little," which was dropped from the show before its 1970 Broadway debut; the song has since taken on a life of its own as an orphaned Sondheim gem. The Company cast album is produced by PS Classics co-founder Tommy Krasker (Sondheim's The Frogs, Saturday Night, Assassins, and Sweeney Todd, among others). Along with Company, Nonesuch has also released the original cast album to Doyle's 2006 production of Sweeney Todd and the Tony-nominated A Light in the Piazza, which features a score by Nonesuch artist Adam Guettel.

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There may be no original Broadway cast recording more iconic than 1970's Company, with its funky organ sound and Elaine Stritch's not-quite-there high notes, but the December 2006 Broadway revival makes its own mark. For Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's piece about a single man observing the benefits and follies of marriage, director John Doyle borrows the same controversial concept he used for his 2005 Sweeney Todd: the actors playing instruments on stage (now referred to in many circles as "Doyle-izing," and not always with affection and delight). But when you're listening to a cast recording, as Bobby would say: What do you get? For one thing, you'll have to adjust to some different sounds created by Doyle and his music supervisor, Mary-Mitchell Campbell. It's a benefit in "Side by Side by Side," which begins with a jazzy double-bass line. It's a drawback in "You Could Drive a Person Crazy," in which the trio's doo-doots are replaced by their saxophone lines. You also get "Marry Me a Little," cut from the original show but by now very familiar and welcome, as well as a lot of the contextual dialogue before, between, and even within numbers. Finally, the strong cast led by Raul Esparza makes this the best-sung Company we've ever gotten (and they play very well too), and Stephen Sondheim's score is still a landmark in musical theater. There will never be a replacement for the original Broadway cast recording, but this revival recording can stand on its own and in some respects may be more flat-out enjoyable to listen to. --David Horiuchi
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 20, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B000LV6R4G
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,806 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I must begin this review by confessing that this is the third cast recording of Company that I've purchased over the years. I love the original cast recording mainly due to the incomparable Elaine Stritch and very strong performances from the rest of the supporting cast. Much as I loved it however, I was always disappointed in Dean Jones's performance as Bobby. I longed to hear a better voice sing that part. So, I got the 1995 revival cast version, mainly for the superior vocal ability of that cast's Bobby. The supporting cast was serviceable, but Debra Monk's Joanne was a little too polished for me.

This recording is a whole new experience. I've seen this revival and it ranks as one of the better theater experiences I've had. Raul Esparza doesn't have the most classically beautiful voice I've ever heard, but for phrasing, acting, and intensity, he wins. His Being Alive is transcendent and I don't think I've ever heard better. The arrangements are sparse, and although I admit I missed the full orchestra at times (Another Hundred People being one of them), they made the experience more intimate and removed some of the elements that had made the score sound occasionally very dated. In particular, the new arrangement for Someone is Waiting is excellent. Although I usually get annoyed by dialogue on cast recordings, the inclusion of the last bit of dialogue that leads into Being Alive makes the finale that much more cathartic.

I highly recommend this recording. It doesn't replace the original, but it's like a whole new show.
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I'm probably fortunate not to have the vivid memory of the classic 1970 cast recording swimming through my head as I can listen to this sparkling update with comparatively fresh ears. Several songs here have been inescapable at karaoke bars for years from the lips of overly zealous musical theater aficionados, yet staged like a minimalist cabaret act, John Doyle's joyous 2006 Broadway revival of the Stephen Sondheim/George Furth musical has brought new life to the oft-resuscitated show. I saw the show this past weekend at the Barrymore Theater and was unexpectedly enthralled, and luckily, this crisp recording gratefully captures most of it for posterity. For a canon as legendary and often erratic as his, Sondheim's sophisticated music and lyrics never seemed as accessible and hummable as they do here.

The story is blessedly simple as it revolves around Bobby, a perennial 35-year old bachelor with commitment issues, as he observes his circle of upscale Manhattanite friends, primarily five married couples at different stages in various vignettes that make him reconsider what he wants out of life. There is an element of contrivance to the structure, but what I thought would be Furth's severely dated libretto continues to resonate with wit and insight. Moreover, the most daring move of the stage production, having the actors play their own musical instruments, is not even relevant on the recording since the accompaniment sounds seamless. So much of the show rides on the crucial casting of Bobby, and Raúl Esparza superbly manages the precarious balance between yearning romantic and cynical hedonist.
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Format: Audio CD
I have yet to see this particular production, but I have had this cast recording for exactly a week, and it has not left my CD player, or my mind, since then. This recording spoke to me in a way the previous recordings of Company never have.

The new orchestrations are, largely, lovely, creative, and clever. A jazzy piano is the backbone of the piece; extremely fitting for the mood. The actor/musicians are given the chance to show off in both categories, and sound marvelous (however, I have seen several clips of some failed attempts at the saxophone bits in You Could Drive a Person Crazy online. Hopefully those are very rare). Particular instances when the orchestrations shine are during Side by Side by Side/What Would We Do Without You? (the mind boggles at how these people can act, sing, move, and play at the same time!), the end of Being Alive, and Barcelona.

The performances are across the board wonderful. Unlike the rather harsh reviewer several posts below, I will not unfairly compare performances to the original cast. This is NOT the original cast, and does not TRY to be the original cast. This production and the original are so startlingly different they might as well be different shows.

Raul Esparza is wonderful. This man brings a life to Bobby that has never been brought to the character before, and his lovely voice and acting ability serve to make you connect to Bobby. The climactic Being Alive is a perfect example.

The supporting cast is likewise wonderful. Barbara Walsh's spin on the cold Joanne is excellent, and her Ladies Who Lunch (and the scene that follows) is wonderful, and makes you realize how miserable the character really is.
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