On the days of Thursday, Nov. 16 through Sunday, Nov. 19, Western Carolina University’s School of Stage and Screen presented the musical “Company.” The performance was approximately two-and-a-half hours and included two acts based on the book by George Furth. The musical was directed by returning New York City director, Sarah Norris, who previously directed “Gypsy.”
The acting by members of the School of Stage and Screen was accompanied by a small orchestra comprised of a mixture of Western Carolina faculty and some extra players.
The main character of the performance was Bobby, who was played by Benjamin Sears. The remaining cast included Mary Gipe as Sarah, Kyle Southern as Harry, Lauren Hunkele as Susan, Hunter Taylor as Peter, Annie Sorey as Jenny, Caleb Warren as David, Kelly McCarty as Amy, Corey Barrow as Paul, Tayler Harris as Joanne and Dylan Renken as Larry.
The main group included five couples who gathered around their friend, Bobby, to console him in his singleness at the age of thirty-five. The friends also make it a goal to confront Bobby over his reasons for not getting married.
The musical itself does not follow much of a regular storyline and instead consists of random scenes that seem to take place in a somewhat chronological order during the evening of his thirty-fifth birthday, showing Bobby’s inability to find someone to get married to.
Sophomore Matthew Harris said, “In ‘Company,’ there’s no plot line, just scattered scenes, but it worked out well. I enjoyed it; I thought it was funny. The lead was good and it was well put together.”
The story seems to be based on a saying: “two is company; three is a crowd.” In the beginning, Bobby is entirely okay with being single, deciding that he would rather have company with his friends in groups of three than be stuck alone with one other person for the rest of his life.
As Bobby visits his friends and hears more about their marriages and relationships, he seems to confront his own fears of getting married and decides that he is ready for that life commitment, despite his want to also continue being a social guy going to parties.
Act I is all about Bobby’s journey from wanting to be single to wanting to get married and accepting that it might be good. The ending of the act even reflects that, as he spontaneously asks his friend, Amy, to marry him after she backs out of her own wedding to Paul on the day. Of course, it does not work out and he plays it off, but it helped him to realize his own want to find what his friends have.
As this revelation continued into Act II, a song about being a third wheel, “Side by Side,” carried the audience back from their fifteen-minute intermission and into the musical again. Bobby then goes on dates with three separate girls: Marthaluz Velez as Marta, Allie Spengler as Kathy, and Autumn Cravens as April. Through this, the audience begins to understand the struggles of Bobby trying to get married because all the girls he attracts have complicated and troublesome personalities.
Marta is a bit crazy about living in New York, Kathy has gotten married and is moving away and April is not the smartest girl around. And so, Bobby begins to regress to his old ways of one-night stands and not looking for marriage with April, who is a flight attendant.
After this, the musical begins to split away from a semi-followable plot line and turns into a collection of scenes which all serve to convey the same message: Bobby will end the musical in the same way he began: alone.
The audience was thoroughly enthused the entire time, enraptured by the jokes, music and stellar acting by all those participating. A raucous round of applause continued for many minutes as the cast did their bows.
The School of Stage and Screen only has one more event in the fall semester, but will continue to present productions through the spring semester, beginning with Pulitzer Prize winning verse play, “J.B.” More information on the School of Stage and Screen can be found at stageandscreen.wcu.edu and by navigating to their calendar of events.