MSU Theatre Department presents "Company" This Weekend
This week, the Murray State Department of Global Languages and Theatre Arts presents Stephen Sondheim's Company. Director Daryl Phillipy speaks to Tracy Ross about the upcoming performances.
"I direct a lot of shows, but I have only directed one musical theatre piece in my life," Phillipy begins. "Finding the right musical was important to me. We chose Company before Sondheim passed away. So, I feel very fortunate that we are working on a Sondheim show and that we'll get to share our first musical since this break with COVID."
Additionally, this year marks the 50th anniversary of Sondheim's groundbreaking work. "It is the musical that put Sondheim on the lips of everyone in American musical theatre, particularly on Broadway. He had done lyrics and some other musicals before, but this was the show that really changed the face of American musical theatre."
"Company is an interesting play because it's really a loose tapestry of vignettes that don't seem all that connected," Phillipy continues. "They are connected through the music and the protagonist of the play, Bobby. It's a look at a man who is turning 35. It's his 35th birthday. The big problem of the play is: how come Robert, the 35-year-old man, isn't married yet?"
Phillipy explains that the other characters of Company rally to find Bobby his perfect match. Since they are all married couples, they believe Bobby should be married too. "As the evening progresses, we discover that these couples are using Bobby as a buffer between themselves. They invite him over because they're having problems in their own marriages. That's what the play is taking on, this idea of company and how, sometimes, we use each other as company to buffer our own relationship issues."
Despite not having an extensive history in musical theatre, Phillipy says he was very excited to start working on Company for multiple reasons. The first was his love and respect for Stephen Sondheim's work. But the eagerness of Murray State's Department of Music helped clinch the selection, too.
"I put forth [Company], and that was one that the music department just jumped at. One, it's very challenging for the musicians, the orchestra, and the singers. Sondheim writes very complex, textured choruses, so people are overlapping each other when they sing. They have things called patter songs, where you have to speak almost 250 words a minute. Those types of things are very difficult."
"I enjoy his humor," Phillipy continues. "I enjoy a lot of the musical composition of it. There are some ear bugs that I find myself singing after I've left rehearsal. And he just does a great job in storytelling with his lyric writing."
Murray State's Department of Global Languages and Theatre Arts presents Company on Thursday, March 10th, Friday, March 11th, and Saturday, March 12th, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 13th, at 2:30 p.m. All performances will be in the Robert E. Johnson Theatre on Murray State's main campus next to the Price Doyle Fine Arts Building.
Tickets can be purchased online or at the box office in person. Student admission is free with MSU ID. For more information, visit the MSU Department of Global Languages and Theatre Arts website.