Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

September 10, 2013


Opera House Players, Broad Brook, CT
through September 22, 2013
by Walter Haggerty

“Company,” introduced in 1970, was the first “concept” musical. Today the show is a classic and has transitioned through revivals, concerts, and never-ending renditions. The lyric, “Art isn’t easy,” is from a later Sondheim work, however, it applies aptly to “Company.”

Art isn’t easy, and neither is Sondheim, considered a creative genius of contemporary musical theatre. Sondheim is a challenge to perform for the artists who give life to his characters, and sometimes to audiences. His music is magnificent, his lyrics inspired.

The Opera House Players are to be commended for accepting the Sondheim challenge of “Company,” and they make it work. The talented cast delivers an ensemble performance that is a miracle of acting and direction. The performers have captured each little quirk and eccentric nuance from every character to develop a series of portraits that stay with the audience long after the evening has ended.

The story focuses on several couples who live in an upscale Manhattan apartment house, and have gathered for a surprise birthday party for Robert, the lone single member of the group. Several side interludes reveal the conflicts and foibles of the various marriages and introduce a trio of prospects for consideration as a wife for Robert.

”Company” is overflowing with memorable performances. Sue Dzira’s “Getting Married Today” stops the show, and Julianne Rhone’s “Another Hundred People” is a lacerating take on New York. Becky Rodia Schoenfeld gives April just the right touch of off-center innocence, but it is Kathi Such who earns the evening’s highest accolades with an electrifying delivery of “The Ladies Who Lunch.”

The role of Robert fits Steve Wandzy perfectly. He captures Robert’s warmth and caring as well as his confused and superficial side. With “Someone Is Waiting” and “Being Alive,”Wandzy’s acting overcomes any vocal shortcomings, allowing the impact of each number to shine through.

At Broad Brook the cast delivers 100%, but the audience needs to work too. Every word is important, there is meaning that goes deeper than what is being said. “Company” demands and deserves attention. It’s worth it and the rewards are great.