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‘Company’ opens at K. C. Jewish Community Center to full house, standing ovation

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Company

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Kansas City’s Jewish Community Center presents Stephen Sondheim’s musical masterpiece, Company, in the White Theatre, Feb. 8-23 with style and grace through a great collaboration of actors, directors, crews, and venue.

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Mix together a middle-aged single man, a bevy of married friends, some occasional girlfriends, then stir the pot. Add some music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; pick a talented director and a spirited musical director; and sprinkle in an ensemble cast of talented singing actors. And the result, Company, another strong production from the acclaimed directing team of Barbara Nichols and Martha Risser.

Sondheim’s Tony Award winning piece that centers on the life of Bobby, a single man with too many well-intentioned married friends. Nichols found and cast the right mix for the ensemble cast with a wealth of talent. The show pivots and focuses on the lead character, Bobby, played by Joel Morrison who remains on stage almost throughout the production. His interactions with well-meaning friends create the back story of the New York setting for the musical. His interaction with the balance of the cast creates the story.

With Morrison as the lead, expect strong vocals and good choreographed movements from him. He creates a likeable character who blends nicely with the other personalities in the cast. Morrison’s vocal talents get a workout with the difficult score and the extended range dictated by the music. He uses his range with power, emotion, and feeling

The Company ensemble consists of Joel Morrison, Bobby; Jan Lord, Sarah; Kevin Brogan, Harry; Lyndsey Agron, Susan; Curt Crespino, Peter; Laura Roose, Jenny; Mark Murphy, David; Whitney Armstrong, Amy; John Edmonds, Paul; Cathy Wood, Joanne; Kipp Simmons, Larry; Maggie Gremminger, April; Samantha Agron, Marta; Katie Bartow, Kathy. Give credit to each of them for creating characters that smack of reality and everyday lives.

In the show, Bobby drops in and observes his married friends over the course of the New York based show and observes their lives while he explores their marriage. Each couple displays its strengths and weaknesses. Bobby must be friend, confidant, counselor, referee, catalyst, best friend, sexual target and more as he spins from one couple to the next. Morrison does quite well blending effortlessly through each encounter while deciding if marriage lies in his future. He sees the strengths and weaknesses of all and carefully decides his path.

Along the way, Bobby reflects on three girlfriends up for his approval or disapproval as he also sees their strengths, weaknesses, and individual craziness. Each represents people everyone knows from somewhere in their life. Of the girlfriends, Samantha Agron stands out as Marta and belts out the “Another 100 People” number and joins the other two girlfriends a fun, trio number “You Could Drive a Person Crazy.”

Of the Company ensemble cast, each couple brings plenty to the mix, Each couple offers a unique perspective into their lives and their union. All of the vignettes fit so tightly together and allow each cast member to display some character flair as they personalize their performance. Each vignette is like a new episode of a sitcom with all the funny weaknesses of the relationships. All provide fun vignettes for the audience. Each vignette gives glimpses of the types of situations Bobby explores in his quest to find the meaning of marriage. The observations and encounters range from innocent friendships to uncomfortable sexual dalliances. Bobby sees the fear of the marriage ceremony from the bride’s perspective, the realization of a new sexual preference, a “friendly” divorce, and more. All are great.

Great shows feature a strong production team. Company features the creative talents of: Barb Nichols, director; Martha Risser, music director; Michaelis Koutsoupides, asst. Music director/accompanist; Keel Williams, music director intern; Alexa Cioffi, Asst. Director; Sara McAdoo, stage manager; Rob Reeder, choreographer; Julia Ras, costume designer; Bill Christie, props; Jayson Chandley, lighting; Alex Davila, sound; Jayson Chandley, set design; Michael Hudgins, technical director; Kelsey Gallagher, sound mixer.

Company runs weekends through Feb. 23 with evening performances at matinee performances. Tickets may be purchased online or at the door. For online sales: www.jcckc.org.

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