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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

An inventive twist on ‘Company’ explores marriage in the modern world


“Bobbi. Bobbi. Bobbi.” The chorus carried across the stage of the Citizens Opera House during a performance of the Stephen Sondheim musical “Company.” The production, which ran from April 2-14, comes as the latest installment of Broadway in Boston’s musical series, which aims to bring Broadway performances to Boston. The show stars Britney Coleman as Bobbi and Judy McLane as Joanne, directed by Marianne Elliot.

This run of the production features a revolutionary and inspiring twist on the original Sondheim musical. Bobbi’s main character is changed to a woman rather than a man. This change offers a fresh take on the themes in the show, resonating deeply with audiences who relate to the struggles Bobbi endures.

“The phone rings, the door chimes, and Company comes in.” The play begins with an introduction to the crux of the conflict: Bobbi has just turned 35 and finds herself alone. Her entire cast of friends is married, but she remains single. 

This fear of both marriage and being unmarried struck me deeply. I found Bobbi’s struggles to see her friends be happy in their relationships poignant and beautifully explored through the musical numbers. Bobbi’s solos, amidst fun ensemble numbers, showcase the main character’s inner thoughts among her friends’ conflicting opinions.

One stand-out ensemble number was “Getting Married Today,” featuring a gay couple, Jamie (Matt Rodin) and Paul (Jhardon DiShon Milton), another deviation from the original performance. The hilarious and engaging, comical, campy rap-adjacent song discusses the doubts and hopes behind marriage, with Bobbi as a witness to further confuse her thoughts. The audience was almost in tears with laughter as Jamie scrambled to organize his thoughts after getting cold feet on the wedding day. 

Another notable solo was “Ladies Who Lunch” by Judy McLane as Joanne. McLane’s soulful, mature, and spellbinding voice took the audience on a journey that reflected Joanne’s experience in the sometimes treacherous realm of relationships and marriage. Her cynicism and understanding finally influence Bobbie to make her own decisions about her relationship status and know that she is an active participant in her own choices. 

While entertaining and eye-catching, the show sometimes felt repetitive and stagnant. The same sentiments were repeated from scene to scene, with Bobbi staying the same except in the final scene. Some moments left the audience close to bored because the ideas had already been explored at length. Some moments, especially the number “Barcelona,” which dealt with Bobby’s sometimes-boyfriend Andy (Jacob Dickey) and whether or not he would go to work that day for his job as a flight attendant, appeared somewhat cringy and did not move the plot forward much.

Another aspect that contributed to this stagnant feeling is that Bobbi is the least interesting character in the show. Her friends and their lives and marriages move the plot forward much more than Bobbi herself. I was much more engrossed in the story of Jamie and Paul, or Joanne and her three marriages, including her current husband Larry (Derrick Davis), than I was in Bobbi’s journey of self-discovery and understanding her motivations. 

The staging of the show struck me as particularly innovative. The different locations appeared as rooms individually lit with a colored border reminiscent of a neon sign in the night. The number “Another Hundred People” had the ensemble moving around life-size letters that spelled out the title “Company” in different configurations, which livened up the otherwise repetitive and somewhat out-of-place number.

The show was also a notable example of modern musicals that lack a linear plot, emulating modernist novels that deviate from the traditional chronological storytelling order. I somewhat wish I had known that piece of material before going into the show, for in many moments, I found myself confused and could not understand what was going on on stage. The show presents a series of vignettes rather than scenes, which, in hindsight, parallels the idea of glimpses of different lives that all influence how Bobbi feels about marriage.

I found it refreshingly honest that the couples were all somehow somewhat dysfunctional and imperfect. The musical takes on authentic themes that are not often seen on stage in this form. This is evident when comparing it to other musicals by Sondheim, such as “West Side Story.”

This new production of “Company” twists the classic tale into a relatable exploration of marriage and fears in today’s world. The inclusion of the expectations for women to get married and settle down as a subtext for the play through the gender change ushered the show into a modern context. Boston, the door chimed, the phone rang, and in came “ Company.”

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About the Contributor
Danielle Bartholet
Danielle Bartholet, Assistant Living Arts Editor
Danielle Bartholet has been passionate about writing as long as she can remember, writing on her high school newspaper and then for the Berkeley Beacon since 2023. She is currently a freshman at Emerson as a WLP major and a marketing communications minor. She is from Houston, TX, and enjoys reading and writing, as well theatre.

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