‘Company’ jolts Barn Players into refreshing post COVID wake-up

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Courtesy of The Barn Players/Vida Bikales

After a long hiatus, Kansas City theatre resurrects with a number of production companies awakening from a long sleep to find their public willing to don masks and produce vaccination records to welcome live theatre, actors, musicians, technical staff, and audiences.

Arts Asylum, a downtown venue, celebrates with “Company,” a Stephen Sondheim popular musical, by The Barn Players as the first musical theatre after a long shutdown. The show, centers on Bobby, a 35-year-old on his birthday. His circle of friends plan a surprise birthday party, but, no one found a way to ensure his arrival at his own party. Instead of going home to his apartment, he listens to his messages and remembers encounters with several couples that comprise his circle.

Spoiler alert: Audience members and actors wear masks. It’s a sign of the times until COVID passes.

Courtesy of The Barn Players/Vida Bikales

For “Company” director Eric Magnus compiled a talented cast to capture the fun of the show as well as the message: All relationships are difficult and unique. Each of the couples that Bobby “visits” in the show provides a glimpse of different relationships and specifically, marriages. Each vignette helps Bobby understand why marriage might not be his best option.

For this show, the writer developed more rounded female characters and gave each of them scenes, lines, songs, and situations that allow some creativity to develop their characters. The girls have duets, trios, novelty numbers that feature their vocal talent and the chances to give their characters some shades and memorable moments. One of the best moments comes late in Act II when a drunk Joanne (Kay Noonan) belts out “Here’s to the Ladies Who Lunch.” Earlier numbers of note are “You Could Drive a Person Crazy” sung by a vocally gifted trio; and “Another Hundred People.”

Courtesy of The Barn Players/Vida Bikales

Unfortunately, the book fails to accentuate the male characters and does not provide equal opportunities with lines, songs, or situations to develop memorable characters. The men do have musical numbers where they sing as a group and get limited chances to show off their harmonies and strong vocal skills. The male actors are good, but they just do not have the opportunity to do much with their characters.

The cast is let by Paul Hindemith who plays Bobby, a young bachelor in New York City during the 1970s. Hindemith possesses super vocal skills and gets to show them off in several numbers. He is the glue that binds the entire show together. Each couple he encounters has new and different advice for his future. Of course, their advice never quite convinces Bobby that marriage is necessarily right for him.

The long-awaited re-opening of theatre brings out the best in the production team. The technical aspects of the show bring the show alive. The lighting was very good. The sound was strong. The costumes definitely screamed 1970s. Each element added to the overall effect. The

Courtesy of The Barn Players/Vida Bikales

CAST: BOBBY, Paul Hindemith; SARAH, Brenna McConaughey; HARRY, Stan Cole; SUSAN, Meaghan Coble; PETER, Joseph Johnson; JENNY, Jennifer Weiman; DAVID, Carson Tate; AMY, Eliza Cantlay; PAUL Isaac Pena; JOANNE, Kay Noonan; LARRY, Mark Murphy;
KATHY, Erin Huffman Pettijohn; APRIL, Miranda Brand; MARTA, Natalee Merola.

The production team was led by Eric Magnus, director; with musical direction by Michelle Allen McIntire; choreography by Hewleek McKoy; stage management by Emilie Christian; set design by Art Winter; set construction by Bill Wright; light design by Chuck Cline; costume design by Fran Kapono-Kuzila; sound design by Sean Leistico; prop design by Katherine Allison; fight choreography by Dan Heinz; asst. set construction by Brandon Scalf; rehearsal accompaniment and asst. musical direction by Barbara Jurgensmeier.

Courtesy of The Barn Players/Vida Bikales

The “Company” band is: Greg Tugman (Clarinet/Tenor Sax), Andrew Beckstrom (Trumpet), Ethan Mulvenon (Bass), Blake Vignery (Percussion), Lee Finch (Trombone), Michelle Allen McIntire (Conductor), Barbara Jurgensmeier (Keyboard I), Amy Schwartz (Oboe/English Horn),
David McIntire (Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Baritone Sax), Kaytee Dietrich (Piccolo, Flute, Alto Flute, Clarinet, Alto Sax) Kieran Ojakangas (Cello) Todd Gregory-Gibbs (Keyboard), Ian Mitchell (Violin), Gibsun Harkins (Viola), Jon Gilmore (Percussion Sept. 25).

“Company continues at the Arts Asylum performance venue as a production of The Barn Players. Evening shows begin at 7:30 and end about 10:15 p.m. “Company” runs Sept 17-26

 

Tags: Company, The Barn Players, Arts Asylum, Kansas City Theatre, Kansas City, Live Theatre, Musical

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