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'Company' Provides Good Summer EntertainmentAt Ridgefield Theater Barn



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‘Company’ Provides Good Summer Entertainment

At Ridgefield Theater Barn

By Julie Stern

It’s 1970, and Bobby has just turned 35. Straight, cute, agreeably charming, he is also single, and his best friends — five New York City married couples — can’t bear it. Of course he wants to be married! Of course he needs to be married! Therefore they will each share with him their own version of domestic intimacy and bliss, to help him realize what he is missing.

Such is the premise of Stephen Sondheim’s portrait of big city relationships, Company —- (the title reflects both Bobby’s need to have “company” to buffer his loneliness, and also the entire cast of the show, including Bobby’s three “hot” girlfriends and a chorus called the “Vocal Minority” — filling the Ridgefield Theater Barn’s small stage for the opening and closing numbers of each act.)

In between are a series of comic skits, capturing the frailties of the various attempts to sell Bobby on the joys of marriage:

Sarah and Harry, soured by the restrictions of their individual 12-step programs, get physically vindictive as Sarah demonstrates the effectiveness of her karate lessons.

Susan and Peter use the view from their terrace as the perfect setting to confide to Bobby that they are getting a divorce.

The hopelessly square Jenny and David ignore their personal inhibitions to get squiffed with Bobby, in order to demonstrate that they are cooler than their kids, but it turns into a downer as they start to cry.

Amy and Paul choose Bobby as the ideal best man when they finally decide to legitimize their relationship with a marriage ceremony, but the jittery Amy orders Bobby to be the one to tell Paul that she has decided to back out.

JoAnn and Larry, the most sophisticated of the five couples, are icily remote from one another as they entertain Bobby in a nightclub, where JoAnn sits and sulks while Larry dances the night away with the entire Vocal Minority.

And then there are some very funny scenes between Bobby and his girlfriends, especially April the flight attendent, who has always known she is dumb, and Marta, the adventuress, looking for novelty.

There is some excellent acting here, led by Scott Dalton as Bobby, whose blond, blue-eyed good looks have the plasticity of a Jim Carrey as he tries to be politely appreciative and understanding about his friends’ behavior, or plots his course to “getting lucky” with April.

In the role of April, Bridget Krompinger proves herself a sparkling comedienne.

Elyse Jasensky is also outstanding as the abrasive JoAnn, and, like Dalton, has an excellent singing voice and stage presence.

As always, Sondheim’s musical numbers are outstanding for their lyrics, while pretty close to boring as a score. Two songs, however, are so good that they demand attention, and are beautifully interpreted by their singers.

Shannon-Courtney Egan does a fine job as Marta, singing the wistful ballad “Another Hundred People” (get off the train each day to come to the big city) meaning that New York is a huge crowd of replaceable strangers, and she then switches to comic mode with a riff on dating.

Elyse Jasensky performs “The Ladies Who Lunch” — a sardonic tribute to married women of a certain age, who pass the hours of their unfulfilled afternoons having alcoholic get-togethers with their cohorts.

Director Christopher Gladysz and Musical Director David Harris do a very competent job with their cast. The one criticism to be made is that for such a small venue, the players were over-miked, but that’s not a big deal. Otherwise it was a fun show.

(Performances will continue until July 23, with curtain on Friday and Saturday at 8; the production’s matinee will be Sunday, July 17 at 2 pm. Tickets $22 adults; $18 seniors and students. The theater is at 37 Halpin Lane.

Audiences are welcome to bring in their own refreshments, or can arrange for a take-away picnic from one of the area restaurants. Call the theater for ticket and picnic details at 203-431-9850.

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