Musical Theater Guild’s Company
A Nice Way to Relax Before FinalsBy Nick White
Produced by Elicia Anderson ’01 and Arthur Fitzmaurice ’03
Directed by Edmund Golaski
With Charles Floyd ’02, Tree Raine ’99, Carl Kraenzel ’89, Jacqueline Kirtley, Jamez Kirtley, Kelly Hellmuth ’00, and David Zych ’00
Kresge Little Theater
May 11-13 at 8pm
On Saturday night I caught the performance of Company at Kresge Little Theater. I laughed, I cried; it was better than Cats. Maybe not, but Musical Theatre Guild’s production was impressive nonetheless. The singing, the acting, and the technical side all combined to make this play worth seeing.
The show is about Robert (Charles Floyd ’02), a successful man with great friends, most of whom are married. The play centers around Robert’s quest to understand marriage, the one thing which his life lacks.
Company is bizarre in comparison to most musicals, with a surreal, non-linear plot, filled with recent events from the main character’s life. In general, Robert is an odd fellow, not understood by his friends, and unable to understand them at the same time. Odd dream-like sequences meander in and out of the plot. Perhaps it is its oddities that make it likeable. This is not the first time that MTG has produced this show: this production is its fourth.
Floyd performed well as Robert. He ended up being a bit more melancholic, especially initially, than the part might have called for. However, he convinced me of the character’s emotions. Honestly, almost none of the characters felt as if they were merely saying lines. Most of them felt like real people. I was most impressed with Joanne, played by Teresa Raine ’99. Her cynicism, witty remarks, and general demeanor came across well.
There were other commendable supporting characters. Larry (Carl Kraenzel ’89), Joanne’s husband, had an entertaining personality that was charismatically performed. As a couple, Larry and Joanne acted the least “married,” possibly explaining why Robert was as close a friend to them as he was. Sarah and Harry, another married couple, were played by the husband and wife team of Jacqueline and Jamez Kirtley. As far as married couples go, these were the most convincing, especially with their banter and physical interactions. Marta (Frances Merenda, G) sang beautifully what I consider the best song of the musical, “Another Hundred People.”
The songs are not among the most well known of Sondheim’s, but they were sung well. By singing odd harmonies and generally entertaining the audience with the humor found in the lyrics, the actors succeeded musically despite a lacking orchestra. (There was a concert the night I watched the play, so the orchestra lost a substantial number of its players.)
The production demonstrated the amazing technical work of MIT students. There were large rotating set pieces, moving backdrops, a convincing city balcony, and numerous well-painted pieces. The set might have been even a bit too complex. I found the lighting design impressive; each scene had lighting that seemed to match the mood. There was even a birthday cake with radio-controlled candles which turned off on cue. A set like this could only have come from MIT.
I cannot claim that the production was flawless. One of the backdrops didn’t roll down properly, amusing the audience for at least thirty seconds. Another gripe I had was that the play started a bit slowly. From experience, I’ve learned that the night after opening night often starts a bit slowly, but it still bothered me as I watched the performance.
I found the intermission to be longer than necessary, and with the weak orchestra, the overture after intermission was not quite strong enough to get the audience ready to watch the second act. However, these details were for the most part specific only to the performance I watched. The show did recover and end quite well.
Despite any small problems the production might have, you will find yourself often laughing, sometimes crying, and generally feeling for Robert in his struggles. MTG has put together a show which for me is comparable to off-broadway performances I have seen. It also can provide some needed entertainment for the weekend before finals.