Company | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Company 

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COMPANY, Pegasus Players. Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's 1970 concept musical--about a swinging bachelor's emerging urge to merge despite the examples of his neurotic friends' troubled marriages--is a problematic work. Offered in the 25th-anniversary "composer's edition," Sondheim's soft-rock score remains fresh and brilliant, with its pungently witty lyrics, sinuous yet spiky melodies, and intricate harmonies (though all are occasionally blurred in Pegasus Players' sometimes raucous production). But Furth's revuelike script--despite some amusing vignettes satirizing the way husbands and wives test and compete with each other--is shallow and caricatured. Its dated attitudes toward sexual and lifestyle issues undermine the urgency of the hero's growing need to find a mate.

All the more reason to admire leading man Brian Stepanek, who movingly conveys his underwritten character's emotional evolution, making him a real man wrestling with fear of commitment. Stepanek's superb delivery of the climactic ballad, "Being Alive," is a model of dramatic singing, as he turns a beautiful song into a painful act of self-discovery. Director Gary Griffin also coaxes strong performances from Sara Rene Martin in "Getting Married Today" and Laura T. Fisher in "The Ladies Who Lunch," making this sometimes effective production well worth a Sondheim lover's time.

--Albert Williams

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