A year ago a new production of Sondheim’s musical Company was announced, with Patti LuPone as one of the stars. I bought a ticket. Fortunately I also wrote it in my calendar because otherwise I would have completely forgotten that it was tonight.
The production was very good, and I liked it much more than when I saw it in New York during the 2006-07 season with Raul Esparza in the lead role of Bobby. Some of that has to do with how I’ve changed since then. A play about a 35-year-old (apparently straight) man in New York wondering why he isn’t married will naturally resonate differently to a 27-year-old closeted gay man living in New York than it will to a 38-year-old gay man living in London whose boyfriend of nearly four years lives in Seattle. I mean, the perspective’s a bit different.
But beyond perspective, the story itself had shifted: Bobby is now Bobbie, played by a woman (Rosalie Craig), and for me that made a world of difference. That and the decision to change the character Amy to Jamie, a gay man who knocked “I’m Not Getting Married Today” out of the park. With these changes the show suddenly felt more relevant, interesting. I cared about and related to Bobbie a lot more than I ever did to Bobby. I liked seeing a gay male character who was neither the star nor a one-dimensional token character. And the other characters? By leaving them basically unchanged, their juxtaposition allowed other subtle things to emerge: The beautiful, ditzy blond flight attendant that Bobbie dates was funny but a bit cliched as a woman in the original, while as a man the character is still funny but also pleasantly jarring because isn’t a handsome man in a uniform supposed to be the image of manly competence? And Joanne (played by Patti LuPone) shifts from being a sort of creepy old seductress to a sort of mentor to the younger woman.
Anyway, all that to say I really enjoyed it.
And also SANDI TOKSVIG WAS SITTING TWO ROWS IN FRONT OF ME THE ENTIRE TIME!!! She’s a bit of a celebrity here, hosting QI and this season of The Great British Baking Show, and I completely adore her.
I snapped a quick photo and then managed to fall in line behind her in the great press to exit the theatre but didn’t quite get my pluck up to speak to her. I did, however, overhear her saying that she thought the play “was one of the most perfect things [she’d] ever seen.”