Theatre Review: “Company” @ Jewel Theatre Company, 11/12/10

With a cast as talented as this, it’s not hard to enjoy Company at Jewel Theatre Company. There are several seasoned Bay Area theatre veterans including: Diana Torres Koss, Lee Ann Payne, Mike Cymanski, Diahanna Davidson and Hector S. Quintana. There are also several other stand-out performances in this production. Company is only running for two weeks, so clear your schedule this weekend and take a night out in beautiful Santa Cruz and catch one of Sondheim’s best musicals.

There were several moments that were fantastic, but here’s just a few of my favorites:

  • In the first scene, featuring Harry (Hector S. Quintana) and Sarah (Diahanna Davidson), hilarity ensues after Bobby (Mike Cymanski) brings over brownies and burbon. Apparently, Harry is sober (not really) and Sarah is dieting (but secretly binges). Davidson easily takes over this scene with priceless facial expressions and manic behavior that would make anyone laugh. I was almost in tears.
  • “Sorry-Grateful”, sung by the married men in the bunch, was one of the more poignant moments in the show. It’s a touching beautiful song that sounded wonderful. It was sung by David (Matt Bariletti), Harry (Hector S. Quintana), and Larry (Scott MacDiarmid).
  • In one of the next scenes, Bobby brings over some marijuana when he visits his friends: David (Matt Bariletti) and Jenny (Tenaya Hurst). Jenny, being a total square, tries to let go and enjoy the evening, but is so up-tight that she eventually rushes off to bed. Hurst brings an elegant poise with some underlying distress to her character that is perfectly juxtaposed against Bariletti’s uncontrolled laughter in his “state of consciousness”.  Throughout this entire humorous scene, I couldn’t help but believe that they were all higher than kites. Bariletti especially nailed it.
  • Finally, we begin to learn about the woman who Bobby is dating – April (Veronika Olah), Kathy (Sarah Griner) and Marta (Jade Shojaee). While their trio, “You Can Drive a Person Crazy” wasn’t completely balanced, each woman brought something very unique to their character. I especially loved Jade Shojaee’s rendition of “Another Hundred People”. I’m looking forward to seeing more of her in the future. Also, Veronika Olah’s naivety was spot-on. She even included some great moments in her scene and song, “Barcelona” with Bobby later in Act 2.
  • Lee Ann Payne (Amy, and choreographer) killed “Getting Married Today”. For a song that’s almost impossible to sing, Payne executed it flawlessly. Her soon-to-be-husband, Paul (Michael Rhone) was also great in this song. I heard every word and Payne’s comic hysterics made this particular song a major stand-out of the night.
  • Then, there’s the infamous scene, with Joanne (Diana Torres Koss) and Bobby in a night club at the end of Act 2. Joanne sings “The Ladies Who Lunch” – one of Company‘s more famous songs. Diana Torres Koss brings a fierceness to Joanne that I haven’t seen in other productions. It was a very touching moment, where Torres Koss really shows off Joanne’s insecurities. I loved it.

As you can tell, there were so many moments in the show that were spot-on hysterical and then quickly became extremely poignant and serious. Thanks to some great direction by Julie James, you were left with a very cohesive story that was easily understandable and very touching.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the pianist, Ruth Butterfield-Winter. She did a magnificent job playing an extremely difficult score by herself. Bravo. Well-done!

My only issues was with some of the ages of the cast. The entire show is centered around Bobby, who is turning 35. Unfortunately, Mike Cymanski does not look like he’s 35. Cymanski is incredibly talented and did an fantastic job throughout, but I never believed that it was 35th birthday, or that he was on the verge of the next step of his life: marriage. It almost felt like he was a divorcee. Because of this, “Being Alive” didn’t strike me as it usually does at the end of the show.

Nevertheless, this production of Company was incredibly well-done and I enjoyed myself thoroughly throughout.

They’ve added a Sunday performance at 7:30pm. You can grab tickets here.


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