When most film viewers think about High Definition Blu-Ray technology and the crystal clear images it provides, their first thoughts don’t tend to be “I can’t wait to see the new Sondheim musical!” Most viewers are looking for Transformers or Rambo or some other blow-em-up, shoot-em-up actioner. But as many HDTV fans are finding out, it’s not just large scale action movies that benefit from the picturesque images; just looking at people is impressive enough. So it is with Stephen Sondheim’s new filmed Broadway Musical Comedy Company, though there’s much more going on than just people standing there to be looked at. Filmed on stage with a live audience, this performance is made more fun due to the simple fact of hearing the audience’s laughs. And with Blu Ray technology you almost feel like you’re actually there in the crowd.
Centering around the comings and goings of Bobby (Raul Esparza),Â a confirmedÂ bachelor,Â on his 35th birthday, this stripped downÂ re-imagining of the 1970 musical of the same name is no less entertaining than it was almost four decades ago. Writing this, it strikes me that when this production was put on, it was just past its own 35th birthday. Perhaps the musical needed to be loved again. The entire cast is also the orchestra, and occasionally they cary their instruments into a scene, singing, playing and acting at the same time. It’s all very impressive and unique and comes off as much more than a simple gimmick: these are actors who can play, not just musicians saying lines.
The basic premise is that this 35 year old man-child, Bobby, is afraid of commitment and afraid to get married. With this in mind, we watch as he meanders his way through various dinner parties and drinking engagements with his married friends. Some of them are happy, some are depressed, and some are just as confused as he is, but the idea of Bobby getting married always seems to enter the picture. Of course his friends think he should and of course he waffles around on deciding. We go through divorces, fights and almost-called-off marriages before reaching the end, and though it’s fun getting there it almost doesn’t feel like a true conclusion is ever reached, but that’s okay: watch it for the thrillingly good voices and the clever blocking.
Zach’s Rating: B
Perfect For: Those who never quite could get up to Broadway
Stay Away if: You want to watch plays from a distance, not be in the actor’s face
To purchase Company, visit Amazon