Review: We All Need a Bit of Company

Check out our review of LUU Music Theatre Society’s performance of ‘Company’. 3.5/5

Having been brought up by a Sondheim-obsessed Mother who constantly blasted out musicals in any car journey possible, I was apprehensive when I heard I would be attending LUU Music Theatre’s performance of Company.

Could they finally put meaning to the lyrics that had been drilled into my head for so many years?

The Tab turned up to the Riley Smith Hall on a Friday evening with a hope to be whisked away to a 1970s New York. The performance was thoughtfully devised by Bea Outram, whose stylized approach to the direction added plenty of flair and sophistication.

With a small cast of 14, the musical revolves around 35-year-old lead man Bobby (played by Joe Gaus), his 5 married best friends and their wives (Tom Dixon, Eleanor Pead, Zoe Cave, Chloe Houghton, Rachel Murphy, Peter Hodkinson, John Meki, Alex Weston, Kyle Harrison-Pope), and his 3 girlfriends (Ellie Macpherson, Sophie Roberts, Sarah Spence).

The plot, despite being slightly confusing, steadily runs through Bobby’s jumbled thoughts on married life and influences from the ‘Company’ around him.

The male members of the cast gave a rather touching performance on the oxymoronic number ‘Sorry-Grateful’ (there’s nothing better than an outpour of male emotion).

The comical number ‘Not Getting Married’ is a contrast of the angelic voice of the choirgirl, the doting husband and the crazy bride on her wedding day. Chloe Houghton plays the part of the panicking bride fantastically (almost worryingly well) as she takes on the extremely hard and fast-paced song.

An explosive start to the second act saw the whole cast perform at their best and as a unit, showing the audience the Broadway ‘hat-and-cane’ dancing that they’d been waiting for. Hats off to choreographer Emma Denley.

Sophie Roberts perfectly plays the part of April, the irritatingly dumb airhostess and one of Bobby’s girlfriends. This included a noteworthy, humorous moment when she decides to not take her trip to Barcelona in order to stay with Bobby, much to his horror.

Zoe Cave plays one of my favourite characters: Joanne, the cynical older friend of Bobby, who is now on her 3rd husband. She did the number ‘Ladies Who Lunch’ justice and reminded me of the (ironically) sobering thought that Vodka doesn’t solve everything; “I’ll drink to that.”

Although I thought Joe Gaus had some wobbly moments and, originally, I wasn’t convinced he was the right man for the job, Gaus pulled it out the bag with his emotionally moving performance of ‘Being Alive’.

An overriding highlight was Daniel Antonio’s musical direction. The orchestra was exceptional and I appreciate the patience that it must’ve required to play the soundtrack on repeat, it does have a tendency to drive you “Crazy.”

The simplistic set and lighting effectively mirrored the clean-cut direction, though I must admit a New York skyline wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Granting I was originally sceptical that students would be able to portray relationship problems between a group of married New Yorkers, I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised.

Perhaps, though, this hit a little too close to home for the woman sitting next to me, who nudged her husband every 5 minutes to stop checking the football score on his phone.

If this is the level of MT’s amateur productions, be sure not to miss their next showstopper!