Upstart Productions stages Sondheim’s Company

By Ibarra C. Mateo

Joel Trinidad’s Upstart Productions’ staging of Stephen Sondheim’s Company opens on Sept. 13, 2019 at the the Globe Auditorium, Maybank Performing Arts Theater, BGC Arts Center in Taguig.

Directed by Topper Fabregas, the Upstart version of Company features OJ Mariano as Bobby, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo (Joanne), Michael Williams (Larry), Ariel Reonal (Peter), Nicky Triviño (Susan), Trinidad (Harry), Sweet Plantado (Sarah), Chino Veguillas (David), Jenny Bianca Lopez (Jenny), James Uy (Paul), and Cathy Azanza-Dy (Amy).

Using vignettes as a narrative technique, the stories of Bobby and his friends unfold into a dark romantic-comedy.

With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth, the audience is transported on the eve of Bobby’s 35th birthday in 1970s New York.

One description of the award-winning musical said: “On the night of his 35th birthday, Robert 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 also said: “Company, Stephen Sondheim’s groundbreaking modern musical, is a mature, intelligent, and wildly funny look at relationships, vulnerability, and being alive.”

The Upstart production of Company comes after the group’s mounting of Monty Python’s Spamalot, which was well-received by the theater audience.

Company is running presently at London’s West End. It among Sondheim’s popular works such as Into the Woods, West Side Story, A Little Night Music, and Passion.

Since the show’s debut in 1970, the Company’s productions in Broadway and the West End have garnered praises and awards, including multiple Tony and Olivier Awards.

“Fabregas was very particular about finding new, unexplored performers, and held open auditions for all the parts,” a Company announcement said.

Trinidad was surprised by the number of those who auditioned, the announcement said.

Fabregas is joined by Rony Fortich, who is the former Hong Kong Disneyland musical director, and New York-based and Fordham University Theater Program Faculty Joey Mendoza handles the production design.

Following is what the artistic and cast members have to say about the Company:

Cathy Azanza-Dy: “No one captures the scars, the ache, and the beauty of friendship and love quite like Stephen Sondheim.”

Caisa Borromeo: “It’s timeless and relatable to anyone who has loved, has wanted love, or has been afraid of wanting love. It’s a big fat hug that will make you appreciate the people in your life more.”

Maronne Cruz: “The different characters and relationship dynamics in Company are helping me process my feelings about friendship, love, commitment, and marriage.”

Fabregas: “Company was the first show I ever saw on Broadway. There’s nothing like it.”

Fortich: “Company has, I think, some of the most beautiful lyrics from musical theater.”

Lauchengco-Yulo: “I don’t think you can say you have been challenged musically until you’ve tackled Sondheim.”

Lopez: “Company digs deep on love, friendship, and marriage. I just love how real it is. One of the best musicals by Sondheim.”

Mariano: “If Bobby is your spirit animal, Company is your therapy.”

Peña: “Company is timeless. It’s one of those pieces that every generation — of any age — needs to see.”

Plantado-Tiongson: “Company … real people … real emotions … A beautiful marriage of music and words.”

Reonal: “Company validates my belief in the age-old saying that ‘no man is an island’. Single or not, admit it: We all need company.”

Trinidad: “Company speaks to me like no other musical before or since. It’s funny, poignant, and unflinchingly honest.”

Triviño: “I love Company, It’s simple and deep.”

Uy: “First time I watched Company, I thought they were telling my story. Saw it a second time and I’m convinced they were.”

Veguillas: “Sondheim’s gift for expressing such complex feelings so simply has always amazed me. ‘Being Alive’ is one of my favorite songs from any musical.”

Williams: “Everyone is on a journey towards love and companionship. Company tells the story of that journey.”

The Company runs on all Fridays at 9 pm; Saturdays at 3 pm and 8 pm; and Sundays 3 pm and 8 pm, from Sept. 13 to 22, at the Globe Auditorium, Maybank Performing Arts Theater, BGC Arts Center.

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