Book by George Furth. Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The original Broadway production opened on 26 April 1970 and was directed by Harold Prince with choreography by Michael Bennett, running for 690 performances.
Synopsis and Musical Numbers
Amidst the gleaming chrome and plexiglass towers of modern middle-class Manhattan a man named Robert lives all alone in his sleek bachelor apartment. His friends are gathered together one evening at the dawn of the Seventies to wish him a happy birthday. Sarah and Harry, Susan and Peter, Jenny and David, Amy and Paul, Joanne and Larry are all living in connubial bliss – only Robert remains unattached. As he blows out the candles, his friends make a wish for him: he ought to be happily married – just like them. But in the incessant click-buzz of the telephone he has found his own happiness – good times with chums and pals, no strings, just COMPANY.
Robert goes over to Sarah and Harry’s apartment. Harry has quit booze, Sarah is fighting the weight war – and they’re both taking it out on each other. As Sarah demonstrates her newly-acquired karate skills by pinning Harry to the floor, their friends observe that it’s THE LITTLE THINGS YOU DO TOGETHER that keep a marriage alive. Robert isn’t entirely convinced and asks Harry if he’s sorry he got married? Or is he grateful? Well, yes and no: Harry’s SORRY-GRATEFUL. Across town, at Susan and Peter’s, Robert finds an enviable idyllic marriage. Peter is proud and affectionate, Susan sweet and adoring: it’s because they’ve decided to get divorced. Robert moves on to Jenny and David’s, where they’re experimenting with marijuana and talking about… marriage. Robert says he just wants to meet the right girl, but right now is dating three not-so right girls. In turn, the frustrated trio, April, Kathy and Marta explain their feelings for Bobby: YOU COULD DRIVE A PERSON CRAZY. Everyone, it seems, knows what’s best for Robert: “HAVE I HOT A GIRL FOR YOU!” promise his friends, as they pair him off with chicks from the office and nieces from Ohio. But Robert knows what he wants: somewhere SOMEONE IS WAITING, his ideal girl, “an Amy sort of Sarah, a Jennyish Joanne” – a mix ‘n’ match compilation of the five wives he knows best.
Robert sits in the park, as a drifting tide of single women washes all around him: April, Kathy, Marta and ANOTHER HUNDRED PEOPLE swarming up from the subway. Even Paul and Amy are tying the knot, after years of merely living together. But at the wedding breakfast Amy announces that she can’t do it. Paul runs off in the rain and Robert asks the distraught ex-bride-to be if she’ll have him instead. Resolute as ever, Amy declares that she is NOT GETTING MARRIED TODAY. But she does… to Paul.
Meanwhile, back at the surprise party, Robert and his good friends congratulate themselves on their good fortune in going through life SIDE BY SIDE BY SIDE. But, as they fall into a good-natured hats-and-canes vaudeville routine, Robert realises that everyone has a dancing partner except him (WHAT WOULD WE DO WITHOUT YOU?). ‘As Robert beds April, his lady friends brood on her unsuitability (POOR BABY). All they want is for him to find a nice girl. But April? She’s tall enough to be your mother”, pronounces Joanne. April and Robert, though, hear only the inexorable TICK TOCK of their own perfect, practised countdown to take-off. At 4.30 in the morning, the alarm goes. She has to fly to BARCELONA.
Susan and Peter are back from Mexico, where they so enjoyed getting their divorce they’re now living together. At a discotheque, while Larry wiggles on the floor, Joanne gets drunk and attracts the attention of a group of bitchy onlookers. She proposes a toast to them: here’s to THE LADIES WHO LUNCH and their empty lives. She also propositions Robert, but what would be the point. He’s seen all these marriages, and what do you get for it? But then he understands what his friends already know: part of BEING ALIVE is committing yourself to somebody. That’s what it’s really about, isn’t it? The five crazy couples leave, Robert stands alone and begins again (FINALE).
Songs cut from this show include: MULTITUDES OF AMYS and HAPPILY EVER AFTER. The song MARRY ME A LITTLE was reinstated for the London revival.
Purchases from Amazon.com
From left to right above: 1. Company 1970 Original Broadway Cast CD. 2. Company 1995 Broadway Revival Cast CD. 3. Company 1996 London Revival Cast CD. 4. Company 2006 Broadway Revival Cast CD. 5. Marry Me a Little Original Off-Broadway Cast CD, with cut songs from Company.