Encore Michigan

Heartfelt ‘Company’ Explores Romantic Relationships with Humor and Wit

Review October 20, 2023 Encore Staff

By Erica Hobbs

DETROIT, MI–Any single person in their 30s knows what it’s like to watch their friends break off and pair off, some to the point where they feel like they’re the last one standing. The societal pressure to settle down is intense, but is marriage ultimately worth it? This is the question that Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s musical comedy “Company” seeks to answer, now playing at Detroit’s Fisher Theatre until Oct. 29.

Directed by Marianne Elliott, the show is a 2021 revival of the original 1970 production and the winner of five 2022 Tony Awards, including Best Revival Of a Musical. Set in present-day New York City, its most significant update is a gender-swapped protagonist. Original bachelor “Bobby” is now “Bobbie” (Ann Arbor native Britney Coleman), a red jumpsuit-clad single woman returning from celebrating her 35th birthday with her friends – all of whom are married. The show’s title refers to Bobbie’s guests (as opposed to a business), but an apt alternative would be “Third Wheel.”

“Company” is a concept musical, told through a series of non-chronological vignettes (as opposed to a linear plot) as we meet these couples: Bickering, settled Sarah (Kathryn Allison) and Harry (James Earl Jones II) keep their marriage alive through jujitsu. Jenny (Emma Stratton) and her hopelessly square husband David (Matt Bittner) are obsessed with Bobbie’s single status. Paul (Ali Louis Bourzgui) and Jamie (Matt Rodin) are on the brink of marriage while Peter (Javier Ignacio) and Susan (Marina Kondo) are on the brink of divorce. And Joanne (Judy McLane), Bobbie’s older, caustic, cynical friend, is relishing in her third marriage, to a much younger man, Larry (Derrick Davis).

Despite complications in their own relationships, Bobbie’s friends worry about her love life and urge her to settle down. Bobbie, for her part, is surprisingly kind at this often condescending and sometimes downright rude advice, as she observes the relationships of each couple and examines her own fears of settling down or being alone.

Coleman leads a diverse, charismatic ensemble cast, portraying Bobbie as a caring, fun, shared best friend, eliciting from them mixed emotions of love, pity and often jealousy at her carefree, no-strings-attached lifestyle.

“Company” is a quiet show: there are no big dance numbers, no flashy costumes, no elaborate sets. But what makes it brilliant is its exploration into the reality and complexity of romantic relationships, which rarely result in “happily ever after” post marriage.

In “Sorry-Grateful,” Bobbie asks Harry if he regrets getting married, to which the ensemble of her male friends reply:

You’re sorry-grateful,


Why look for answers

When none occur?

You always are what you always were,

Which has nothing to do with, all to do with her.

“Company’s” more well-known songs include “Side by Side,” “Ladies Who Lunch” (made famous by husky-voiced Detroit native Elaine Stritch) and “Being Alive,” its heart-breaking finale which resolves that yes – marriage may be tough, but love is what living is all about (“Alone is alone, not alive”).

Modern day audiences will likely appreciate the revival’s diverse cast, which showcases the universal experience of dating and marriage, a 180 degree turn from the original production’s all-white, all-straight representation.

While it deals with a serious subject matter, “Company” is funny, full of quirky characters and delightful banter.

In the spectacularly fast, tongue-twisting “Getting Married Today,” Rodin’s Jamie smoothly and hilariously expresses his marriage-day jitters, contrasted with beautiful, operatic interludes from an angelic priest (Kondo) expressing her joy and blessings of the impending nuptials.       

Later on, Bobbie is distracted with visions of advice from her male friends urging her to settle down, while trying to enjoy casual sex (if it is not already apparent, this is not a show for children).

“Company” will likely resonate most strongly with single people, torn between loneliness and fears of commitment, although anyone who has experienced the ups and downs of long-term relationships will likely relate as well.          

At its core, “Company” is a heartfelt show. It will make you laugh and maybe even cry, as you ponder one of life’s most complicated, crucial and often all-consuming experiences.