Phone Rings, Door Chimes in Comes COMPANY…

27 Jun

Tonight I had the pleasure of attending the Zigfield theatre to see a filmed production of COMPANY with the New York Philharmonic. This ALL star cast consisted of winners like Stephen Colbert, Martha Plimpton, Christina Hendricks, Jennifer Laura Thompson, Jon Cryer, Patti LuPone and Neil Patrick Harris, who played “BOBBY”, among many others. My 1995 Camp Boyfriend was the assistant director so I was lucky enough to converse with some of the brains behind this production after the screening. The last time I sat in this theatre was back when CAST AWAY was playing. Then, the room saw my tears for the disappearance of Wilson and now… for Being Alive. This is my review.
Christina Hendricks, Anika Noni Rose and Chryssie Whitehead

These three were pretty interesting to me. Individually they worked REALLY well (with the exception of Anika’s “Another 100 People” which, even though she hit the notes, lacked any emotion at all.) But Together, they fell completely flat for me. “You can Drive a Person Crazy” was so underwhelming and was definitely my least favorite number. Christina Hendricks = brilliant comedic actress + what a Body. Anika Noni Rose = Meh (She was good, but looked weak among the rest of the cast. A “Here’s a pretty girl who has a nice voice” kind of thing.) Chryssie Whitehead = Nailed her scene with Bobby + What a dancer!
Jill Paice and Craig Bierko

These two, by the book, were at the bottom of my FAVORITE COUPLE list. This has NOTHING to do with the actors, who were fantastic. Craig Bierko was brilliant in the role and I met Jill after the reading and couldn’t believe how different she was in real life from this southern bell she portrayed in the show. I’m not sure where the script was going with these two. They were definitely the strangest of all the couples and the least believable to me. I almost wish that certain “keepable” traits of these characters, Peter and Susan, had been absorbed into other characters so that we could have used THEIR time to focus on more important parts of the story line, of which I was interested in, that felt glazed over a bit. (i.e. Kathy and Bobby)
Katie Finneran and Aaron Lazar 

“Not Getting Married Today” was the song that made me fall in love with this show when I was 10 years old. Katie Finneran’s Amy was flawless and Aaron Lazar was so good that I, at times, wanted to see HIM as Bobby. Their scene together, and the moment between Katie and Neil before the wedding, was it’s own fantastic independent film. This was a couple I wanted to see MORE of throughout the show.
Jennifer Laura Thompson and Jon Cryer

Hello Jon Cryer… you’re amazing and Jennifer Laura Thompson was absolutely solid. Their relationship was so interesting to me. Just knowing each other SO well that with a look between one another you’ve answered about 20 questions, that people observing said couple, form in their head. I was really captivated by Jon Cryer’s subtlety and when he opened his mouth to sing, my eyebrows raised in delight.
Patti LuPone and Jim Walton

I’ve  had the honor of seeing Patti LuPone on stage a couple of times. I was blown away by her “Rose’s Turn” in Gypsy (having felt that she phoned in the first act of the show…which… honestly didn’t matter after that finale). Realizing, after Gypsy, that she hasn’t lost what has made her a living legend, I expected nothing less from  her in “Ladies Who Lunch” and I got what I expected. Nailed it. You always get a LuPone twist to the song you’ve known and loved. Whether it’s with a simple beat change or an added attitude, the grit, shame, determination and exhaustion that should be in the performance of that number was there. And some. Jim Walton was great. Fabulous voice and commitment  but it’s hard to shine next to the one we can’t take our eyes off of.

Martha Plimpton and Stephen Colbert 

This was the couple I was waiting for.  Now I had seen Colbert stretch his “musical theatre” legs in certain Exit 57 sketches, not to mention ANY opportunity he had to show off his pipes on Strangers With Candy… but this was a whole other ballgame. He really did a terrific job. Yes, he’s Stephen Colbert, so he’s gonna bring in an audience and doesn’t have much (any) of a Broadway credit to his background, but I was REALLY proud of him. He has the majority of my favorite song in the show “Sorry, Grateful” and he sang it simply and with emotion I haven’t seen from him, as he’s become quite the entertainment clown over the years. His moves were on point and you could tell how thrilled he was to be a part of this. It was also nice to see the Sedaris, DiNillo acrobatic moves placed within the choreography of the show. Martha Plimpton just didn’t get to sing enough. Every time she opened her mouth, I wanted more. Her voice is rich and wonderful and while I felt she over acted the character a bit, she had an energy that was gleefully contagious.
Neil Patrick Harris

Who doesn’t think Neil Patrick Harris is one of the most talented people out there? After watching the Tony Awards this year, my respect and admiration for him climbed to “11” and  after watching him slide through this version of COMPANY, it’s solidified. Unbelievable talent just oozes out of this guy. Actor, singer, dancer… funny, dramatic, comic book-like villain … we’ve seen him do it all and we’ve seen him do it better than “well”. Do I think Neil is brilliant casting for Bobby… no. I don’t. Do I think he did an incredible job? Yes… I do. My feelings about Neil are: while he has a voice I could listen to forever, his Bobby was a little less exhausted than I wanted him to be and little more slick than I wanted him to be. His “Marry me a Little” was a strong B and his “Being Alive” was an A-. I believe that song should be sung by someone who looks like he’s been through it. It’s the same reason why 20-30 something chicks look and sound ridiculous singing “Ladies Who Lunch”. You don’t look like you’ve earned that song. Neil Patrick Harris is not a chameleon but he is one of the BEST at what he CAN bring to the table. His Bobby was a certain style. Is it the perfect style for Bobby? I don’t think so. But maybe you disagree.
 Overall I thought it was great. I thought it looked great on film and I thought everyone did a WAY ABOVE satisfactory job in it. The Choreography for the love scene with Bobby and April stood out to me (which is odd, cause I don’t usually get excited about dance numbers) but it was particularly well done. Kris Rhodes, the choreographer and Chryssie Whitehead, the featured dancer made a visibly luminous team on this.



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