The other week it was announced that Elliott Harper Productions (the new theatre company founded by Tony & Olivier Award-winning director Marianne Elliott and Producer Chris Harper) would be bringing legendary broadway musical, Company, to London's West End. This led to a lot of of people getting very excited...
— Elliott & Harper (@_elliottharper) September 22, 2017
But why all the hype? Well don't you worry, we've got all the answers you need...
What is Company?
From Stephen Sondheim, musical theatre's most renowned composer, the show is widely regarded as a trailblazer of the dark-comedy, modern-musical style and the winner of seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Lyrics and Best Book.
On the night of his 35th birthday, Robert (Bobby) struggles to think of a wish to make as he blows out his birthday candles. The lone bachelor, surrounded by “those good and crazy people” -- his married friends -- Bobby is uncertain whether he should simply be happy with his lot or whether he should wish for his own romantic partner. Over a series of dinner parties, first dates, and thoughtful conversations, Bobby attempts to understand the pros and cons of marriage from his diverse and frequently hilarious friends, and begins to make sense of his own persistent bachelorhood.
It features a brisk and energetic score with many of Sondheim's best known songs, The Ladies who Lunch, Being Alive and Side by Side, and is seen as a mature, intelligent, and wildly funny look at relationships, vulnerability, and “being alive.”
What's different about this one?
In this West End revival, Bobby won't be blowing out his candles...the promiscuous, commitment-phobic, thirtysomething male protagonist will be reimagined as a woman, turning Bobby into Bobbi.
Why are they doing that?
The director, Marianne Elliott, has said that this is a move to "make this production contemporary" and delve deeper into what it feels like "to be a 35 year old sexually confident woman managing friendships and searching for love."
Speaking to the LA Times earlier this year, Sondheim said "If you've got somebody as distinguished and inventive and good as Marianne Elliott, and she says, 'I would love to do Company with a female central character.'... What is there to lose? ... That's what keeps the theaters alive."
Who's in it?
The 2018 production will see Patti LuPone make her first West End musical appearance in 25 years. The star is currently appearing in War Paint on Broadway, and has appeared on television in American Horror Story, Ugly Betty and more.
Her stage career includes originating the roles of Fantine in the London production of Les Miserables, Eva Peron in the Broadway production of Evita and Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard.
LuPone will be playing alongside Rosalie Craig, who stars as the gender-swapped central character, Bobbi.
"I saw War Horse in New York and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in London. I came out of both productions blown away by Ms Elliott's vision. So naturally I am thrilled beyond words that she wants me to be a part of Company."
"I thought I'd sworn off musicals, but working with Marianne was an opportunity I couldn't resist."
-- LuPone speaking after the cast announcement
Craig is best known for her musical theatre work, including the world premiere of Tori Amos's musical The Light Princess at the National Theatre, for which she was nominated for an Olivier Award, City of Angels at the Donmar Warehouse, Finding Neverland at the Leicester Curve, and Ragtime at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre.
Further casting is still to be announced.
When was Company last in the West End?
The last major London production of Company was in 1995 at the Donmar Warehouse, directed by Sam Mendes and starring Adrian Lester as the first black actor to play Bobby in a major revival of the show.
Where and when can I see it?
Company will run at the Gielgud Theatre from 26 September 2018 for a strictly limited season.
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