Review: Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” by Riverfront Theater Company

Reviewed By Bob Hoover

The spirit of that hopeful Hollywood cliché, “Let’s use the barn and put on a show!” runs through the energetic production of Company by the Riverfront Theater Company, whose cast pours plenty of perspiration and exertion into Sondheim’s 1970 classic musical.

Company is a smorgasbord of great songs, humor, pathos, and traditional Broadway dance numbers that gives the 14-member cast their solo chances to shine. At the center is Bobby, the 35-year-old bachelor with commitment issues whose good, crazy married friends push him into relationships while struggling with their own.

Rick Hvizdak, a veteran of the regional theater scene, plays the role cautiously, keeping the women, wed and single, at arm’s length, but without looking very deeply into his own needs. Hvizdak has a fine voice, sometimes muffled, but performs the singular “Being Alive” with moving emotion.

Riverfront’s theater is a narrow rectangle, and it stages Company on two platforms with a narrow ramp on the long side and a tight platform on the shorter one. The seats are placed at an angle, creating sightline problems leading to craned necks and shifting seats. The “Barcelona” number was hard to see from my seat, but “Side by Side” on the long stage was fun to watch, although the dancers slid a bit close to the edge.

Immortalized by Elaine Stritch, “The Ladies Who Lunch” second-act showstopper is a challenge for those who follow. Carly Fuller (Joanne) gave her own hip-rolling version, tottering uneasily on high heels and holding her martini glass in a death grip on the narrow ramp. It was one of several high points in the show, including Mairead Roddy‘s “Another Hundred People” and Emily Urbaniak and Randi Walker in “Getting Married Today.”

Musical director Travis Rigby led the eight-piece orchestra with confidence, doing justice to Sondheim’s score while Matt Mlynaski‘s staging never flagged.

It’s community theater, after all, so the performances were uneven and a little rough, but the cast can sing well and throws its all into this Company.

Sadly for fans of community theater, but happily for Riverfront, the show’s a sellout, but I would check the website – www.riverfrontheater co.org — just in case a spare ticket shows up.

Company | by Riverfront Theater Company | March 19 and 24-26 at Allegheny River Trail Park, Aspinwall

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