By Jordan Wright
When the cast of Signature Theatre’s “Company” struts onstage in the musical’s first number, the thing to keep in mind is that three of the four onstage couples — Sherri L. Edelen as Joanne and Thomas Adrian Simpson as Larry; Tracy Lynn Olivera as Sarah and Evan Casey as Harry; Erin Driscoll as Jenny and James Gardiner as David — are in fact real-life married couples.
Only Erin Weaver as Amy and Paul Scanlan as Paul are not. Got that?
Knowing that underlying dynamic makes it all the more compelling to watch their interactions. Set in 1970s Manhattan in the dawn of the sexual revolution — the reimagining of the meaning of marriage and the requisite neuroses of the typical New Yorker — the musical is reminiscent of a Woody Allen movie set to music (fabulous, iconic, Stephen Sondheim music).
Perennial bachelor Bobby is a cad and charmer, the type of guy who won’t commit to any girl. But his married friends adore him. He remembers their birthdays and brings them flowers when they’re sick. They reveal their innermost selves to him, and he stays as neutral as Switzerland.
Light and breezy Bobby, the perennial observer, stands on the sidelines and watches as the couples bicker or praise, need one another, yet feel trapped. Marriage. It’s complicated.
And for middle-aged Bobby, bed hopping is far less messy.
When he queries the husbands about their marital satisfaction, they explain the dichotomy of their lives with “Sorry-Grateful,” a song that attempts to clarify the loneliness and comfort of marriage. Armed with conflicting advice, Bobby hunkers down in his bachelor foxhole examining the paradoxes of modern relationships.
Meanwhile, the wives sing about Bobby’s loneliness and trash his choice of women in “Poor Baby,” syncing up with their husbands in the tune, “Have I Got a Girl for You.”
For more than four decades, the music from “Company” has been sung in every city and cabaret from here to Timbuktu. Memorable showstoppers — like “Another Hundred People,” “Barcelona,” “Marry Me a Little” and “Getting Married Today” — have become beloved classics.
Matthew Scott as Bobby is outstanding, especially if you like Seth Meyers of “Saturday Night Live,” whom he could double for in adorableness. Notable too is the effervescent Weaver, recently off her starring roles in “The Last Five Years” and “Xanadu,” who tears the roof off with her rendition of “Getting Married Today.”
Choreographer Matt Gardiner keeps the cast on their toes with slick dance routines and a karate scene between Sarah and Harry that is outright hilarious. Oh, yes, there’s plenty of comedy among all that angst.
Scenic designer Daniel Conway employs a sleek three-tier stage bracketed by a grand staircase, sliding doors, a lofty apartment terrace and hydraulically controlled mid-century modern furnishings.
Producer Eric Shaeffer has put together a strong cast of powerful singers to showcase Sondheim’s musical and, in turn, give us a terrific show.
“Company” runs through June 30 at Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. For tickets and information, call 703-820-9771 or visit www.signature-theatre.org.