Northeastern’s production of the Stephen Sondheim musical “Company” may open on Election Day, but the show has nothing to do with politics.
“I decided going in that I wanted to do something decidedly apolitical,” said Jonathan Carr, the production’s director and a lecturer in the College of Arts, Media and Design’s Department of Theatre. “This is a show about who we are as people, not who we are nationally and politically.”
“Company,” the only musical of the theatre troupe’s season, tells the story of a tight-knit group of friends through a series of interconnected vignettes. One vignette follows Bobby, a single man in his 30s who is incapable of committing to a steady relationship. A second story line follows his trio of girlfriends and a third focuses on his married best friends.
“Company,” which opens next Tuesday and runs through Nov. 18 at the Northeastern Studio Theatre, is the second production of the academic year. The first of the year, “One Flea Spare,” was performed last month in the same venue.
The cast and crew have been preparing for the play since the start of September, placing intense focus on Sondheim’s complex songs, which require a high degree of technical accuracy.
“You can’t just depend on knowing whom you sing after,” said Hayley Perkins, a fourth-year theatre major who plays Sarah, one of Bobby’s married friends. “You have to know the beats and counts for everything. We focused a lot more than usual on learning these songs, but that meant that when we really got into rehearsals we already knew so much about our characters and this story.”
The play, Carr said, raises questions about the meaning and definition of happiness. As he put it, “What does it mean to be happy, and how do we know when we are?” Cast members noted that preparing for the play has challenged them to think about their off-stage lives.
Over the course of the production, there will be times when it may sound like the 14-member ensemble is singing as one, but each actor has his or her part to perform. This individualized approach to the play’s music carries over into other elements of the production, in which the actors must draw out the unique elements of their characters.
“Like the characters in ‘Company,’ we’re at this point in our lives where we have to figure out how we relate to the other people in our lives,” said junior theater major Nick Osborne, who plays Bobby. “That’s very much the same thing that this play is dealing with.”
Tickets to “Company” can be purchased online at MyNEU or at the Ell Hall Box Office.