Reviewed by David Collins - May 31, 2019
Theatrecraft published by The Victorian Drama League
Company tells the story of Robert, still single but starting to question is propensity to still mingle. His friends see, to have all taken steps to settle down, but not him. A girlfriend here (Marta), a girlfriend there (Kathy), a stewardess (April0 every other where… slowly Robert finds himself in a kind of crisis, having to decide between embracing change or avoiding it.
Fred Pezzimenti’s set design is a nice mix of the practical and stylistic. Items of future wheel around onstage, surrounded by projection and a stencilled city skyline. With a story spread across multiple locations and little time allowed for transition, the cast move their set pieces as needed from one scene . to the next at a fine pace. The only niggling distraction is a scuffed, black stage floor that looked in need of a coat of paint or at least a brush. To be sure, multiple locations means keeping things fluid and flexible, with dressing at a minimum, but drawn floorboards may have lifted the look of things from good to great.
The band, conducted by musical director Malcom Huddle, was terrific. Unlike previous shows such as Chicago, there is no room for musicians on stage, so here they have the unenviable task of playing from backstage. Yet, despite distance and acoustics, they get the sound levels just right. There wasn’t a moment when any of the performers where drowned out or threatened to be over-powered.
Those performers were fairly brilliant all-round, with the women - Amelia Hunter (Amy), Carolyn Waddell (Joanne), Amy Larsen (Marta), Candice Sweetman (Sarah), Hayley Noy (Kathy), Katrina Pezzimenti (Jenny), Emily McKenzie (April) , and Lauren McCormack (Susan) - mostly stealing the show. Amy’s wedding histrionics were hilariously played by Amelia, while Carolyn’s small scene between Joanne and Robert near the end as she triggers his epiphany was beautifully done. Candice’s acting and singing were also a highlight, all the more so when learning afterwards she was performing with a fractured leg! It makes her early scenes - as Sarah demonstrates her karate prowess on her husband, Harry - impressive as well as funny.
The men - Nic Russ (Paul), Anthony Bingham (David), Blair Salmon (Peter), Brett O’Meara (Larry), and Dan Bellis (Harry) - provided able backup throughout, led from the front by an excellent performance by Nicholas King as Robert. The play opens on one of Robert’s birthdays and ends a year later. In this in-between time, Robert has an almost dream-like meander through his friends’ lives and Nicholas navigated this increasingly haphazard emotional rollercoaster well.
With performers like Ramin Karimloo known for their renditions of the final number, “Being Alive”, you’d forgive anyone for feeling a little daunted as the show approaches its last scene. But Nicholas was fearless on the edge of the stage, tackling the closing song with heart and gusto.
Director Colin Armstrong and his cast and crew have ensured Company is another splendid addition to Beaumaris Theatre Company’s pedigree of musicals. You hope they don’t run out them any time soon.