Critics have weighed in on the latest Broadway opening, and with the exception of the New York Times, all came out yelling: “Go see this show!!!” Though they all agree than Katrina Lenk, the Tony-winning Actress from The Band’s Visit, doesn’t quite step up to fill the shoes of the regendered lead either vocally or emotionally, the wonderful music, ensemble and design behind this production make up for her performance, and combine to make it a marvelous production none-the-less. Patti LuPone delivers a career toppling turn as Joanne, and with a couple notable exceptions, the gender-swapping worked far better than critics had feared. They found this sharp reconception of a Sondheim masterpiece surprising, exciting, moving and well worth a trip to the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater.
New York Times Review of Company
[L]et’s face it, the revival that opened on Thursday night at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater is not the “Company” Sondheim and the book writer George Furth (along with the director Hal Prince) unleashed on Broadway in 1970. Sure, the score remains great, and there are a few perfectly etched performances in supporting roles, especially Patti LuPone’s as the undermining, pickled Joanne. As directed by Marianne Elliott, however, in a gender-flipped version abetted by Sondheim himself, what was once the story of a man who is terrified of intimacy becomes something much less interesting: the story of a woman who is justifiably tired of her friends. … Reframed that way, and with heaps of oversize symbolic baggage piled on top, the story comes to seem overwrought and incoherent. … [T]his “Company” is perfectly in line with [Sondheim’s] intentions: It’s new. And truth be told, I was never less than riveted — if usually in the way Bobby is, eyeballing messy marriages. Nor is the chance to hear the great score live with a 14-piece orchestra to be taken lightly; is there a more exciting opening number than the title song? So I guess I’m sorry-grateful. Sorry for not liking this version of “Company” better — and grateful to Sondheim for providing the chance to find out.
TimeOut Review of Company
Before we get to the specifics of the spectacular new Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s 1970 musical Company, consider for a moment … It’s a psychological revue—a theatricalization of Bobbie’s conflicted feelings about commitment on the occasion of her 35th birthday—and that’s hard to pull off: The show requires performers with great skill and character to fill out roles that are sketchily defined. … Marianne Elliott’s production pulls these complex elements together with dazzling success. … I think Elliott’s Company is the most satisfying Broadway revival of a Sondheim show in history. The contemporary setting and gender switches help; with a woman as Bobbie, and the sexes of several couples swapped around, the text plays out in exciting new ways. … The comedy of the modernized book scenes is squeezed to the hilt by a cast that includes musical-theater überdiva Patti LuPone, harnessing her imperious earthiness to outstanding effect. … Lenk holds strong at the center, bringing her formidable charisma and individuality to the role of Bobbie. … While she’s not up to the vocal demands of the show’s emotional-breakthrough finale, “Being Alive,” she acts the hell out of it. … These numbers and others earn the kind of applause you too rarely hear at musicals these days: the kind that doesn’t merely mark the end of a song, but expresses genuine, heartfelt joy.
Variety Review of Company
[D]irector Marianne Elliott’s sensational new revival strikes like a lightning bolt, surging with fresh electricity and burnishing its creators’ legacy with an irresistible sheen. It’s silly and sophisticated, intimate and in-tune with the currents of modern life, brilliantly conceived and funny as hell. “Company” is the best of what Broadway has to offer adult theatergoers: a playful slap, an honest tickle and one of the 20th century’s greatest musicals gorgeously realized — and refined — to reflect the moment. … Patti LuPone is so magnificent and so magnetic in the role, witnessing her performance is like an exquisite form of ecstasy. … Lenk, a Tony winner for “The Band’s Visit,” has a cool, unforced charisma that anchors the story and charms viewers right into her pocket. … Elliott’s physical staging is imaginative, sharp and generous in visual surprise, a cosmic urban dreamscape with “Alice in Wonderland” physics. … “Company” has always reached to the heart of what it means to be a person in the world. But rarely has our human desire for connection — in the theater, over drinks with friends, even with strangers on the street — felt as urgent and essential as it does right now. “Life is company,” so the song goes. And “Company” is sublime.
Deadline Review of Company
If there’s a better, more vital way to honor the late, incomparable Stephen Sondheim than Marianne Elliott’s superb production of Company, Broadway hasn’t invented it. This gorgeous revival of the Sondheim-George Furth masterwork at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, is, from across-the-board excellent performances and thoughtful revisions to the visual delight of a lovely and ingeniously clever set design, a gift both to and from the genius we lost last month. With its attention-getting gender-switching premise bringing a freshness and nuance that’s nothing short of near-miraculous for a much-revived 51-year-old musical, Elliott’s Company challenges Broadway’s current production of 1955’s Trouble in Mind as the most dizzying time-warp experience on stage this season. Like that Alice Childress play, this Company feels both absolutely of the moment and timeless. … If Company is a reminder of Sondheim’s brilliance – not that we needed reminding – “Ladies Who Lunch” demonstrates yet again that LuPone is a theater concoction through and through, a treasure like Sondheim was a treasure, and she makes certain we don’t leave our seats without a true feeling of gratitude for sharing, after nearly two very crummy years, this time and space her. … If Lenk doesn’t have LuPone’s vocal power, she nonetheless finds a way to her character-defining anthem, commanding a stage that’s no longer divided into boxes or Through the Looking Glass pathways. Bobbie, the production suggests, deserves this moment unburdened, and Lenk sees that she gets it. If there’s any comfort we can take in Sondheim’s recent passing, it’s that he saw this cast, directed by this director, on this set before he made his exit.
Hollywood Reporter Review of Company
The production played to rave reviews in London in 2018; its Broadway transfer was just over a week into previews when theaters went dark due to pandemic lockdown in March 2020. A year and a half later, the revival resurfaces as a rejuvenated triumph, mounted with insights both touching and stinging, and a canny understanding of the complicated mechanics of a show that takes place largely in the abstract. Elliott brings a pleasingly light touch as she guides an ensemble of top-notch New York stage regulars to hit every note of comedy and poignancy. … The production is so vibrant, so alive and stimulating, reconceived with such cleverness and humor, that even a conspicuously miscast lead doesn’t cancel out its pleasures. That would be Katrina Lenk, who in Indecent and, in particular, The Band’s Visit was a divinely enigmatic stage presence. … As talented as Lenk is, however, to this longtime fan of Company she seems jarringly wrong for Bobbie, regardless of the character’s gender. … But Lenk is also an imperfect fit vocally for the role, which has been transposed from the original baritone range. Her voice sounds underpowered, occasionally straining and hitting pitch problems when anything approaching a belt is required. She acts the songs with too little sign of genuine feeling. This is the rare production I’d love to go back and see again with an understudy. It’s a notable validation of the vision of Elliott…and of the gifts of her ensemble that the protective fondness and warmth shown by the other characters for Bobbie helps soften Lenk’s remoteness in the role. And it’s a testament to the artistry of the musical itself that it works even with a less than ideal lead. … This first major stage revival of a Sondheim work since his death may not be perfect, but damn it’s good.
The New York Post Review of Company
The major shakeup in Elliott’s interpretation is that the main character Bobbie (Katrina Lenk), who’s turning 35, has been changed from a man to a woman. The gender switcheroo is seamless enough that if you don’t know the show, you won’t notice it. … The whole cast is a smash — an ensemble as tight as my hamstrings — but especially on fire are Simard, consistently the funniest actress working on Broadway, and Doyle, whose radiating goodness balances out Jamie’s manic neuroses. The great LuPone plays Joanne, a wealthy socialite whose blood alcohol level is 99%. Dry and vicious, LuPone sells the Bobbie-as-woman concept better than anybody else. … The one weak link, I’m sorry to say, is Lenk. The Tony Award winner was wonderful as a wistful restaurant owner in “The Band’s Visit,” but she does not fit in musically or dramatically here. The should-be gut-punch songs “Marry Me A Little” and “Being Alive” are tentative and unmoving. Still, the strengths of Elliott’s revival are so undeniable that there are few better nights out on Broadway right now.