Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions
Did you know there's a new Sondheim revival on B'way?!
Maybe I'm just late to the game, but I hadn't heard they were putting up a new version of Company. Between this and Shaun's show, it's definitely time for a quickie trip to NYC for a weekend of theater.
Sondheim's always been in my top tier of composers - not only for his wickedly impossible-to-sing melodies, but for his dark, cynical take on things that so contrasts the shiny happy tone of most old-school musical theater. His stuff refuses to settle into an easy reconciliation, leaving you slightly itchy, a little uncomfortable, a bit unresolved both musically and emotionally - which, of course, is a much more accurate mirror of the experience of being alive than the happily resolved endings of say, Rodgers and Hammerstein. It's brilliant, poetic, mindful, snarky. And the guy's had a seriously prolific career; I mean, he started as the lyricist on West Side Story - not a bad way to begin as a young guy out of music school - and, of course, proceeded to write any and everything on B'way in the last thirty years, usually starring Bernadette Peters or some other stage icon.
Most of all, though, I love Stevie for the way he constantly engages the tension between the need to be alone and the difficult but necessary and equal need to be with people. Every show seems to find some way to slip this push-pull of the joy and frustration of being with people vs. the blessed solitude of being alone with your thoughts into the discussion. And I am grateful to him for this. Company, of course, features some of the best individual songs engaging this theme in "Sorry-Grateful" (haunting!) and "Being Alive" (the big finale song in which Bobby essentially sells out to commitment, which I've read in the past was actually a grudging acquiescence on the part of Sondheim to pressure from producers to give the show a happy ending - he preferred to let Bobby remain content with his bachelorhood, but they thought it would leave audiences cold). More reason to love him.
It looks like this particular production's getting some solid reviews. If you're in the neighborhood, check it out. I'm hoping to squeeze in a viewing when I'm in the area later this year. Until then, here are a few reviews from Wednesday night's premiere: