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KeyBank’s touring production of ‘Company’ is an update of a classic

Shows by Stephen Sondheim are an acquired taste. Considered the most important composer and lyricist of the 20th century, many consider him the person who reinvented theater. His words and music of his themed shows seem to lean towards the more negative elements of life with subject matter that is complex while at the same time sophisticated. His music also tends to be sharp and staccato-ish with a sharp and driving fast beat. In spite of the fact that he won eight Tony Awards, an Oscar, eight Grammy and the Pulitzer either really love Sondheim or you do not.

Those familiar with theater are well aware of his works that include “Gypsy, “A Little Night Music”, “Sweeney Todd”, “Into The Woods” and the lyrics for “West Side Story” as well as “Company” which is currently on stage in the Connor Palace at Playhouse Square as part of the KeyBank Broadway Series in its reimagined form. With lyrics by Sondheim and book by George Furth, this 1970 Broadway show was far ahead of its time and dealt with subjects considered sensitive in that era. The show was nominated for a total of 14 Tony Awards, winning six. In the original show, Robbie is a male confirmed bachelor who is contemplating his unmarried state with the help of his “friends”.

In the 2020 revised telling, unmarried female Bobbie has turned 35 and her friends (all couples that include straights, gays and living together but divorced pairings) simply cannot figure out why such a fabulous person has not found a mate. Bobbie is also aware that her biological clock is ticking faster and faster yet she has never felt more alive. Bobbie has three lovers to keep her satisfied, friends who need her, a good job and lots of Makers Mark Bourbon to keep her happy.

The scenes are tightly framed in boxes to represent the “tightness” that we have allowed society to trap us. The entire cast is squeezed into Bobbie’s efficiency much like a bunch of college kids in a phone booth of old all the while singing, dancing and drinking. This newest version was nominated for nine Tony Award nominations, winning five. Everything about this show has been brought up to date including orchestrations, language and costumes. Songs include: “Company”, “You Could Drive A Person Crazy”, “Another Hundred People”, “Getting Married Today”, “Marry Me A Little”

“Side by Side by Side” and “The Ladies Who Lunch.”

As for the cast, they are superb. Britney Coleman as Bobbie is a fireball of energy with a superb voice. Matt Rodin as Jamie is great singing “Getting Married Today” and Judy McLane as Joanne does a fine turn with “The Ladies Who Lunch”. Javier Ignacio as Peter and Marina Kondo are the divorced couple who are happily living together are an absolute hoot. Lastly, James Earl Jones II as Harry and Kathryn Allison as Sarah are a knockout as the booze and food (respectfully) addicts who fight it out kung fu style.

The eleven piece orchestra (with seven local musicians) under the direction of Charlie Alterman keeps a lively pace with the very difficult score. Lighting by Neil Austin and sound by Keith Caggiano work well with the story and the scenic design by Bunnie Christie is spot on. The show is smartly and tightly directed by Marianne Elliott.

For fans of Stephan Sondheim you will love the modernization of this over 50 year old classic. It is fresh and relevant for these modern times. Even those who are not a fan of the man will be quite entertained by the show.

 The KeyBank Broadway Series production of “Company” will be on stage in the Connor Palace Theatre at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, Ohio through May 19, 2024. For more information and to purchase tickets go to or call (216) 241-6000.


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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.  

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