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MTG's Company is a roller coaster of comedy, emotion

(Left to right) Peter (Jonathan E. Hardy '95), Larry (William H. Lee '95), Robert (Christopher Drew '95), Paul (Richard N. Damaso '95), Harry (John M. de Guzman '97), and David (Sean P. White) perform in the Musical Theater Guild's production of Company.


MIT Musical Theatre Guild

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

Directed by Bob DeVivo.

Starring Christopher Drew '95.

Feb. 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 at 8 p.m. and Feb 5 at 2 p.m.

La Sala de Puerto Rico.

By J. Michael Andresen
Staff Reporter

After several years of mediocre, and occasionally awful, musical theatre productions, the MIT Musical Theatre Guild has hit the nail squarely on the head with their current production of Stephen Sondheim's Company. Director Bob DeVivo inspires his cast to work as a closely-knit ensemble, a fact which is reflected in the show's impeccable cohesiveness. From the first view of the gorgeous set (including a silhouette of the New York skyline in the background) to the final bars of the finale, MTG treats its audience to a roller coaster of comedy and emotion and wonderful singing.

Company relates the situation of Robert (Christopher Drew '95), a thirtysomething single guy living in New York City. The main problem in Robert's life is that he is single and his married friends are apt to remind him of this. We get to examine a slice of Robert's life and his varied relationships with his three girlfriends and his married friends, as well as his views on love and marriage. Sondheim's songs are full of emotion and deal with the problems and pitfalls of married life, including divorce, adultery, and boredom. The ending is refreshing, in that it is not the standard fairy-tale conclusion but rather an ambiguous, incomplete catharsis that leaves a more lasting impression on the viewer.

The cast does a wonderful job with Sondheim's music. Drew is particularly impressive in the lead. He is uniformly charming in his speaking and singing parts, and genuinely moving when the part calls for it. When he belts out his summary of what he's learned about life and love in the finale "Being Alive," everyone can feel his torment. Drew's performance is alternately hilarious and immensely powerful, a real treat to watch all around.

The supporting cast is no less impressive. Amy, the neurotic bride-to-be, is wonderfully played by Tracy Harris W'95. She sings the lyrics of "Getting Married Today" just slightly ahead of the already quick tempo, giving the audience an uneasy feel about her character. The spoken part is very well-delivered, as her words and gestures give the appearance of a very disturbed woman. Cara B. Loughlin '96 is equally good at portraying the dim-witted stewardess girlfriend of Robert, glibly admitting that she's dumb in one of the musical's funnier lines.

None of the cast has a weak voice. Each solo is delivered with feeling and great strength. Debbie Hyams '97 sings a thoughtfully impassioned "Another Hundred People" about the anonymity of New York life, and Kristin Hughes delivers a cynical "Ladies Who Lunch" about the phoniness of New York socialites. The group numbers are well-balanced and enthusiastic. A great deal of care has been poured into rehearsing this show, and it has paid off beautifully.

Bolstering the strong cast and DeVivo's solid direction are an impeccable pit orchestra and delightful choreography. The pit orchestra, under the direction of Carson Schtze G, is always perfectly balanced and in tune, and never overpowers the singers. "Unobtrusive" is one of the most complimentary adjectives that can be used to describe a pit orchestra, and it applies here in the best possible way. In a similar way, Regina Schoonover's choreography never gets in the way of the singing, but is wonderfully entertaining in its own right. "You Could Drive a Person Crazy" and the vaudeville parody in "Side By Side By Side/What Would We Do Without You?" (complete with hats, canes, and a kickline) are true masterpieces.

MTG did a great job with this production. If you've been turned off of MTG in the past (or if you've enjoyed the solid yet unimpressive shows of recent memory), Company is a wonderfully refreshing change.