Taking on a Sondheim classic is daunting enough. Doing so in a city that is home to an original Tony-nominated Broadway cast member is borderline psychotic. (Pamela Myers played “Marta” in the original cast.) But the cast and crew of COMPANY at The Carnegie puts forth tremendous effort in their production of the 1970 hit.
Sara Kenney’s performance as Amy is a show stealer. She’s a pro; she understands what good acting looks like. So does Megan Ainsley Callahan. Both of their roles call for silly, broad comedy which is difficult to do well but they manage to pull it off. Unfortunately, their great work contrasts with some not-so-great acting from others in the cast. A show like this needs to feel grounded. Authentic, realistic delivery of lines – even ones that aren’t very well written – must happen to keep the audience from checking out.
I was confused why the role of Harry was gender-bent. I read the feature by David Lyman that explains the rationale; I don’t agree it was a necessary change and frankly, I’m not sure it’s OK to make a change like that without getting permission.
I know that there was an attempt to make the show feel modern; apart from the use of cell phones, the show does not feel contemporary to me – and that’s because the script is forty-five years old. Its very difficult to update a piece like this that was written to be time-specific to modern-day. The costumes are mediocre and while the set was fun, it doesn’t scream 2015 to me.
I also found some of the ages of the actors distracting. If you can’t cast a show like this with age-appropriate performers then why producing it? There are so many great musicals to choose from . . .
Erin McCamley’s musical direction is lovely, however. Watching her conduct with grace and class is a treat and the musicality of this show is above average. I just wish the acting rose to the same standard.
I’m not saying to stay away; The Carnegie is a lovely venue and these folks have obviously worked very hard on this production. Go see Sara Kenny light up the stage with her delightful performance and go to enjoy some nice singing and decent choreography; many of the folks around me were having a wonderful time.
COMPANY plays through August 30th at The Carnegie in Covington, KY. Tickets are available here.