Two things happened in the last three weeks that have prevented me from updating my award-nominated blog (as BLP should henceforth be known according to my PR friends). On the night of said-awards my iPhone was stolen in the bar afterwards as I celebrated with my new-found blogger community. Hence no means of updating my blog quickly and on the hoof. Then I started rehearsals for Sondheim’s ‘Company’ which has taken over my life for the last three weeks. Ergo no time to update my blog, do any housework, do the shopping, put my darling Maggie to bed or generally bless myself.
The show opened on Tuesday night at the Electric Theatre, Guildford to rapturous applause and rave reviews – at least from my friend Sean who was so impressed he wants to come back another night. And this is from a boy who has worked at Covent Garden Opera House, is musically trained and will always give an honest (and often damning) critique. But he was bowled over by this production by Alex Parker, Alastair Knights and Scarlet Wilderink. He thought it was slick, professional, sharp, sounded incredible, looked divine and was choreographed cleverly and with perfect timing and precision.
Sean had never seen ‘Company’ before but knew to expect interesting things from Sondheim having seen the London revival of ‘Sunday in the Park with George’ in 2006 at the Menier Chocolate Factory and falling in love with Jason Carr’s re-orchestration. And of course like everyone else he had seen Tim Burton’s Hollywood version of ‘Sweeney Todd’ the following year so was expecting similarly quirky characters, memorable tunes and bizarre orchestration. But even so he was pleasantly surprised at how much he enjoyed the music and how loudly he howled at the comedy in the script. He thought ‘Drive a Person Crazy’ was one of the best moments in the show; a feat of musicality and choreographed genius and a brilliant performance from the three girlfriends, Meg, Jenna and Ana. But his favourite moments were the poignant ones – he loved the pathos of ‘Sorry, Grateful’ sung beautifully by Elliot, Joe and Paul. And he roared with laughter at Nan’s betrayal of the wonderfully ‘potted’ Jenny, but his heart nearly broke when she sits down at the end of the scene and looks so heart-broken and sad and trapped. And Rosie’s portrayal of the bitter and broken Joanne in the second Act with ‘Ladies who Lunch’ left him (and the rest of the audience) literally at the edge of their seats.
Of course there is room for improvement – for Sean that was mostly an issue with sound and getting the balance between the phenomenal 12-piece on-stage band and the soloists who sometimes struggled to be heard. But he could hardly fault it – the lighting was ‘very New York’, the black and white costumes were ‘absolutely fitting for the production’, the overall effect was polished, professional and perfect. And it made him want to come back and see it all over again.
So, come and see it for yourselves if you can – I promise you a night you will not forget. But if you can’t make it to leafy Guildford have a sneaky peek at it taken at our dress rehearsal on Monday.
Johnny is coming on Friday night to see exactly what has kept his wife out galavanting every night for the last three weeks. I hope he agrees that it was worth it.