Kennesaw State University to present Stephen Sondheim’s “Company”
KENNESAW, Ga. | Sep 13, 2022
Concert staging of musical includes numerous song favorites in 11 vignettes
Kennesaw State University’s Department of Theatre and Performance Studies (TPS) will present “Company” September 14-18 at the Stillwell Theater. “Company” takes us on Bobby’s journey as the couples around him ponder his singlehood and encourage him to find a mate. The concert staging of this musical, written by George Furth, features many of Stephen Sondheim’s beloved songs, including “Being Alive,” “Marry Me a Little,” and “Side by Side by Side.”
KSU TPS faculty member Timothy Ellis, director, and Holt McCarley, guest music director and part-time faculty member, explain that even though “Company” was first produced in 1970, it remains relevant today. “Sondheim paints a beautiful picture of what it means to be human. This production is just as timeless now as it was back in the 1970s. It’s an interplay between personal—and less intimate—connections and friendship; it’s a struggle and a rite of passage for everyone,” McCarley says.
Ellis agrees, adding that “Company” brings “the story to today, because in the 1970’s, and even in 1982, when our production is set, there is still the idea that American women and men of a certain age should probably be married and having kids by now. For our students, it’s a bit of a look into the past and the different attention to being comfortable with human norms. Getting married right after graduation is not the norm anymore! Our students want time to establish themselves.”
Based on 11 one-act plays, “Company” uses music to connect the vignettes, showing how the characters affect Bobby’s life. “We learn a lot about Bobby, what he’s looking for…but at the end of the show, it ends where it began. It’s the same people, the same place, and he’s still single. It’s told in a hopeful way that gives him hope for the future, but it doesn’t give you answers the way that musicals sometimes do,” explains McCarley.
Theatre major and senior Connor Maguire plays Bobby, and they acknowledge that their generation is seeking answers. “A lot of us, especially my generation, feel so lost about how to connect with other people, of how to be in a relationship. That’s the central issue of ‘Company,’” they explain. Maguire immediately could relate to Bobby and “brought a lot of my own experience and relationships” to the character, noting that “your own struggles are what makes a performance.”
Ellis has performed the song “Being Alive” numerous times and says that the show “resonates with me, being still single, so some of the words from the friends reverberate with me, for me. Ultimately, it’s not all about, ‘when are you getting married?’ But it’s about how our interactions of those close to us affect our decisions or they don’t.” Maguire adds, “At the end, the conflict of Bobby’s love life is not resolved, but he’s broken ground on a new revelation for himself.”
Jenna Livingston, a junior, is the assistant director and understudy/swing, while also juggling her double major in Theatre and Performance Studies with a concentration in musical theatre, a major in History Education, and a dance minor. She notes that “Company” explores “a variety of different types of relationships between the couples AND Bobby with the couples. The show reminds us that everyone has their own relationship with everyone else and to cherish it as much as possible in the time that you have.”
Maguire says that Sondheim, who passed away this year, was the main reason that they do musical theatre. “This past year has been rather difficult for me, as my own hero, Stephen Sondheim, died. Playing this role, in this seminal musical, is such a momentous honor. I am so glad I get to be closer to someone who is the main reason that I do musical theater. He was a giant and I hope I do it justice for him.”