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Supreme Company Indeed
on 19 May 2008
This release of the 2007 Broadway Revival of one of Sondheim's finest moments is an absolute must-buy for theatre enthusiasts. Matter of fact, I'd highly recommended it even for those who are merely flirting with the idea of a theatrical dabble.
Whilst the thrill of experiencing something magical in a theatre cannot be matched, the bittersweet flipside of this truth is that there are so many legendary productions which we'd love to see captured and released on film; however diluted the experience may be. Those of us not fortunate enough to catch a show during its run can usually only daydream about experiencing our favourites. But here we have an opportunity to experience something of a modern classic, and it's an absolute treat.
Chances are you've not stumbled onto this page without some idea about the basic premise of Company, so I won't regurgitate the plot here. Perhaps you're familiar with the songs from past productions or recordings, but - like myself - weren't lucky enough to catch this particular production on Broadway. If that's the case, then I cannot recommend this DVD highly enough to you.
Raúl Esparza is simply masterful in the lead role; hitting all of the role's demanding nuances, yet also allowing others to shine when it's their turn to do so. Indeed, each and every cast member is surely at the top of their game for this recording of the show.
Replicating the instruments-onstage twist of Broadway's most recent Sweeney Todd revival, the resultant production of Company is revelatory, and the song arrangements are sublime. Furthermore, George Furth's book makes the show feel more compellingly contemporary than I could ever have imagined.
By the end, having been put through the emotional wringer, and having frequently laughed out loud, I couldn't wait to experience this production again and again.
A word about the disc's technical merits: the sound quality is superb throughout, and works with the intelligent editing and stellar anamorphic photography to make you almost feel like you paid $100 for a seat in the theatre. The only slight disappointment is that the cover suggests Special Features of "An Audience with Stephen Sondheim" and "Video Interviews with Director John Doyle and Actor Raúl Esparza", yet I'm afraid I've searched each and every nook and cranny of the menu screen without finding either (and after having had the carrot dangled, I'd have appreciated them).
Still, this DVD more than justifies its almost giveaway price for the production of Company alone, and I only wish all live theatre recordings were this impressive. The bar has been raised; kudos to all involved.