Everything you need to know about 'Company' on Broadway
The Sondheim musical about marriage is a modern musical theatre classic, and here's your ultimate guide to Company.
Phone rings, door chimes, in comes Company! Company is a Tony-winning musical by George Furth and Stephen Sondheim. The show first premiered on Broadway in 1970 and was so acclaimed that it was nominated for 14 Tony Awards and won six of them, a record at the time.
Company is considered one of the first popular concept musicals. Company follows Bobby, who is single and surrounded by married people, on the eve of his 35th birthday. Instead of a linear story, in a series of disparate scenes, Bobby watches the interaction of his married friends and debates whether or not to settle down himself. Company may not have a traditional plot, but what it does have are songs that are now musical theatre anthems, such as "Being Alive," "Not Getting Married Today," and "The Ladies Who Lunch."
Many musical theatre legends have also starred in Company, from Dean Jones and Elaine Stritch in the original production, to stars like RaÃºl Esparza, Neil Patrick Harris, Katrina Lenk, and Patti LuPone in notable revival productions.
And now, for the 2021 revival of Company on Broadway, Bobby has been transformed into a female character named Bobbie, in a new take on a beloved character. And it's not just Bobbie: The 2021 Broadway revival changed other key characters in the story as well.
Find out more about Company below, with characters, running time, songs, and how the 2021 Broadway revival differs from the productions that came before it.
What is Company about?
Company is one of the first concept musicals to become popular. A concept musical is one without a linear plot. Instead, the musical is a series of non-linear scenes held together by a common theme. In Company, the theme is relationships and marriage. It follows a bachelor named Bobby (now a bachelorette, Bobbie, for the revival) who is approaching his 35th birthday and ambivalent about getting married.
In a series of comedic vignettes, Bobby interacts with his (or her, depending on the production) married friends — some of whom have happy marriages, others on the brink of divorce. And through it all, the character wonders, "What do you get?"
At the time it was written, in 1970, Company was revolutionary in exploring dating and relationships in the modern age, when phones and the fast-paced world of New York City have made it seemingly impossible to find a real connection. As Sondheim wrote in his book Finishing the Hat, Company is about "the challenge of maintaining relationships in a society becoming increasingly depersonalized." And a real connection, as the musical points out, is the key to "being alive." Talk about a musical that's only grown more relevant with time!
Where is Company playing?
Company is currently running on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, at 242 West 45th Street between Seventh Avenue and Eighth Avenue. The Jacobs Theatre opened in 1927. It was named the Jacobs in 2005 after Shubert Organization president Bernard B. Jacobs. The Shubert Organization owns 17 Broadway theatres.
How long is Company?
Company runs 2 hours and 25 minutes with one 15-minute intermission. This is a standard running time for a Broadway musical. It's recommended that you eat before the show.
What days is Company playing?
Company plays eight performances a week at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. The show typically runs Tuesday to Sunday, with two performances on Wednesday and Saturday. Company is dark on Monday. For the complete weekly performance schedule and up-to-date show times, please visit the Company page to learn more.
When did Company premiere?
Company actually began in the late '60s as a series of short plays about marriage written by the playwright George Furth. Stephen Sondheim read the plays and asked famed Broadway director Harold Prince for his thoughts. Prince had the idea to turn the plays into a musical, and he would go on to direct the original production of Company. Sondheim then realized that in all of the plays, there was one outsider character looking in on the action. For the musical, the outsider characters were merged into one character named Bobby.
- 1970: Company had its pre-Broadway tryout in Boston at the Shubert Theatre beginning March 24, 1970. Despite mixed reviews, Company opened on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre just a month later, on April 26, 1970, and was a success. An original cast recording was also released. Company closed on Broadway on January 1, 1972 after 705 performances.
- 1971: Company launches its first national tour, with George Chakiris (who played Bernardo in the 1961 West Side Story film) as Bobby.
- 1972: The first West End production of Company opens on January 18, 1972 at Her Majesty's Theatre and runs for 344 performances. Prince, who directed the show on Broadway, also directed the West End production, and a number of the Broadway original cast members reprised their roles in London. An original cast recording of the London cast was also released.
- 1986: The first Australian production of Company opens at the Sydney Opera House's Drama Theatre.
- 1995: The first Broadway revival of Company opens at Roundabout Theatre Company's Criterion Center Stage Right Theatre. It ran for 68 performances. The production was directed by Scott Ellis and choreographed by Rob Marshall. An original cast recording of this production was also released. That same year, the first London revival is also produced, directed by Sam Mendes, at the Donmar Warehouse. Company in London plays at the Donmar Warehouse from December 13, 1995 to March 2, 1996. Then it plays at the Albery Theatre from March 7, 1996 to June 29, 1996.
- 2006: The second Broadway revival of Company opens at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. It ran for 246 performances. It was directed by John Doyle. An original cast recording of this production was also released.
- 2018: British director Marianne Elliott has the idea to revive Company with a female character, Bobbie, in place of the main male character, Bobby. The London revival begins performances at the Gielgud Theatre on September 26, 2018 and closes March 30, 2019. A cast recording of the revival was released.
- 2020: The third Broadway revival of Company begins performances. This revival is directed by Marianne Elliott and is a transfer of her Olivier-winning West End production. Company on Broadway played nine performances before getting shut down because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which closed Broadway for over a year. Company resumes performances on November 15, 2021 and is currently running.
- Other productions: Since its premiere on Broadway, Company has been revived twice in London. The musical has also been produced worldwide in the Philippines, Brazil, Norway, Israel, Singapore, Peru, Slovenia, and Buenos Aires.
Who wrote Company?
Company contains a book by George Furth and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The two collaborated on three projects together, of which Company was the most successful. The other was a musical called Merrily We Roll Along, which was a Broadway flop (though is beloved among musical theatre fans and has a film adaptation in the works), and a play called Getting Away with Murder, which only ran on Broadway for 17 performances.
Furth was also a playwright on his own. His plays include Twigs, The Supporting Cast, and Precious Sons. He died in 2008 at the age of 75.
Sondheim is considered by many to be the godfather of modern musical theatre. His other major works include writing lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy, and co-writing Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George, Sweeney Todd, and many other musical theatre classics. Sondheim has a theatre named after him both on Broadway and in the West End. He died in 2021 at the age of 91.
Aside from Bobby, who is the main character of Company, the musical truly has an ensemble cast. Below is a list of the characters in Company and the notable people who've played them.
- Bobby: This is the main character in Company. Bobby is pressured by his friends to get married, but is unsure if marriage is something he wants. The original Bobby on Broadway was Dean Jones, but since then, Neil Patrick Harris, RaÃºl Esparza, and George Chakiris have played the role. In the 2021 Broadway revival, Bobby is a female character named Bobbie, played by Katrina Lenk.
- Joanne: An older, married, rich female friend of Bobby. She's acerbic and sarcastic, with a touch of self-loathing. Joanne has been played by Elaine Stritch, Lynne Redgrave, Debra Monk, and Patti LuPone.
- Larry: Joanne's husband who is loyal to her even when she insults him.
- Amy: Bobby's friend who is about to get married and has a nervous breakdown during a wedding day. Amy is renamed Jamie and is a gay man in the 2021 Broadway revival.
- Paul: Amy's fiance who still wants to marry her, even if she is getting cold feet.
- Sarah: One of Bobby's married friends, who is on a diet and also really into martial arts. Kate Burton is one of the many actors who've played Sarah.
- Harry: Sarah's husband, who is a recovering alcoholic. Harry and Sarah goad each other about their vices. Stephen Colbert is one of the many actors who've played Harry.
- Susan: Another of Bobby's married friends, who tells Bobby she's divorcing her husband Peter.
- Peter: Susan's soon-to-be ex-husband. They get divorced but still live together. In the original production of Company, Peter hints at having a homosexual affair with Bobby, though that has been cut in the 2021 Broadway revival.
- Jenny: Jenny is uptight but learns to let loose when she smokes marijuana with Bobby and David, her husband. In the 2021 Broadway revival, the roles of Jenny and David are now reversed, with David now being the uptight one.
- David: Jenny's husband who is the breadwinner of the family. He pesters Bobby about why Bobby is not married. In the 2021 Broadway revival, the roles of Jenny and David are reversed.
- April: One of the women Bobby dates who is a slow-witted flight attendant. Christina Hendricks and Jane Krakowski are some of the actors who have played April. In the 2021 Broadway revival, April is now a handsome yet dumb man named Andy.
- Marta: One of the women Bobby dates who is freewheeling and laid-back. LaChanze and Anika Noni Rose are some of the actors who have played Marta. In the 2021 Broadway revival, Marta is now a man named PJ.
- Kathy: One of Bobby's longtime female friends who is disenchanted with New York and leaves. In the 2021 Broadway revival, Kathy is now a man named Theo.
Company has many hit musical theatre songs. The musical includes the showstoppers "Being Alive" and "The Ladies Who Lunch," the speedy tongue-twister "Getting Married Today," and the slower and more pensive "Marry Me a Little."
- "Company" — Bobby/Bobbie and Company
- "The Little Things You Do Together" — Joanne and Couples
- "Sorry-Grateful" — Harry, David and Larry
- "You Could Drive a Person Crazy" — Kathy, April, and Marta (Andy, PJ, and Theo in the 2021 Broadway revival)
- "Have I Got a Girl for You" — Larry, Peter, Paul, David, Harry (Sarah, Jenny, Susan, Amy, Joanne in the 2021 Broadway revival)
- "Someone Is Waiting" — Bobby/Bobbie
- "Another Hundred People" — Marta/PJ
- "Getting Married Today" — Amy, Paul, and Company
- "Marry Me a Little" — Bobby/Bobbie
- "Side by Side by Side"/"What Would We Do without You?" — Bobby/Bobbie and the couples
- "Poor Baby" — Sarah, Jenny, Susan, Amy, Joanne (Larry, Peter, Paul, David, Harry in the 2021 Broadway revival)
- "Barcelona" — Bobby/Bobbie and April/Andy
- "The Ladies Who Lunch" — Joanne
- "Being Alive" — Bobby/Bobbie
What awards has Company won?
Company is a crowd-pleaser and a critical hit. From the original production of Company onward, almost every major production of Company has won awards. The current Broadway revival has not won any awards yet but will be up for contention at the 2022 Tony Awards. Here is a list of the honors that Company has won.
- 1970 Broadway production: It won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Score, Best Lyrics, Best Direction of a Musical, and Best Scenic Design.
- 1995 London revival: It won three Olivier Awards, including Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical, Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical, and Best Director.
- 2006 Broadway revival: It won one Tony Award: Outstanding Revival of a Musical.
- 2018 West End revival: It won four Olivier Awards, including Best Musical Revival, Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical, Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical, and Best Set Design.
- 2022 Broadway revival: Company won five Tony Awards — the most out of any musical. Company wins included: Best Revival of a Musical, Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical (Matt Doyle), Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical (Patti LuPone), Best Direction of a Musical (Marianne Elliott), and Best Scenic Design of a Musical (for Bunny Christie).
Major productions of Company
There are too many productions of Company to count. Below are some of the major productions of Company and some behind-the-scenes facts about them.
- 1970 Broadway production: The original production of Company, starring Dean Jones and Elaine Stritch, was not without its own share of marital drama. Jones was going through his own marital problems and left the production soon after opening night. Jones was replaced with Larry Kert, who became the first replacement actor to be nominated for a Tony Award.
- 1995 Broadway revival: This production was the first time that Sondheim modified the script to Company. He and Furth revised the script, cutting any dated lines and modified the ending to Act One, adding in the song "Marry Me a Little."
- 1995 London revival: This revival starred Adrian Lester, the first Black actor to play Bobby in a major production of the show. This production was filmed and broadcasted on the BBC.
- 2006 Broadway revival: This revival, directed by John Doyle, starred RaÃºl Esparza as Bobby. In this production, the actors played their own instruments. This production was filmed and broadcasted on PBS.
- 2011 New York Philharmonic concert: This is perhaps the most celebrity-filled production of Company ever, with Lonny Price as director. Neil Patrick Harris played Bobby, and his co-stars included Stephen Colbert, Christina Hendricks, Anika Noni Rose, and Patti LuPone. The performance was filmed and broadcasted to movie theatres and released on DVD.
- 2018 West End revival: Sondheim revised Company for the second time with director Marianne Elliott, to turn the bachelor Bobby into the bachelorette Bobbie, and changing the genders of several of the characters. This included changing book scenes and lyrics, as well as modernizing the language for a post-2000s audience. This production also featured a gay couple for the first time. Patti LuPone played Joanne for the second time in this production, winning an Olivier in the process.
- 2021 Broadway revival: After having to shut down in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Elliott's revised Company opened on Broadway, with Tony winner Katrina Lenk as Bobbie and LuPone reprising her performance as Joanne. Sondheim was able to see this production before he died.
Celebrities who have performed in Company
Company is catnip for celebrities. Many big names have starred in the show, either in fully staged productions or in concert productions, attracted to the witty wordplay and the showstopping songs. Here are some notable people who've starred in Company.
- Neil Patrick Harris: He played Bobby in a 2011 concert production of Company with the New York Philharmonic.
- Patti LuPone: LuPone can't quit Company! She's played Joanne on Broadway, on the West End, and in the 2011 concert with the New York Philharmonic.
- Elaine Stritch: The original lady who lunches, Stritch originated the role of Joanne on Broadway and on the West End. The character was inspired by her years before she was cast.
- Stephen Colbert: He played Harry in the 2011 New York Philharmonic concert production of Company.
- Christina Hendricks: She played April in the 2011 New York Philharmonic concert production of Company.
- Jane Krakowski: She played April in the 1995 Broadway revival of Company.
- LaChanze: She played Marta in the 1995 Broadway revival of Company.
Fun facts about Company
With its 50-year history, there are more anecdotes and fun facts of Company than candles on Bobby's birthday cake. Here are some notable trivia about the show.
- Patti LuPone said she would not do a musical again after 2017's War Paint, but she made an exception for Company. But 2021 was not the first time LuPone has sang "Ladies Who Lunch." She first performed the showstopping number at Sondheim's 80th birthday concert in 2010 (which was filmed and broadcast by PBS). LuPone then played Joanne in the 2011 concert version of Company with the New York Philharmonic (which was also broadcast by PBS), and in the second West End revival of Company in 2018, before playing the role again in 2021. We'll drink to that!
- The measure of a real musical theatre nerd is whether you've seen the 1970 Company documentary, Original Cast Album: Company, which follows the recording of the Company cast album. The most memorable part of that documentary is Elaine Stritch, who tries to record the song "Ladies Who Lunch" for hours and grows steadily more agitated and hoarse each time. The documentary is so iconic among the theatre crowd that a mockumentary, Original Cast Album: Co-Op, was released in 2019, featuring John Mulaney, Seth Meyers, Alex Brightman, and RenÃ©e Elise Goldsberry.
- British director John Tiffany directed an all-male workshop of Company in 2013, with Alan Cumming singing "Ladies Who Lunch." Tiffany wanted to try out a concept that had been swirling since Company premiered: Was Bobby gay? Sondheim attended the workshop and ultimately did not approve of the production, saying "it didn't work because it wasn't written that way." Sondheim maintained that Bobby is not gay.
- "Being Alive" is now the song most associated with Company, spawning numerous covers. But it almost didn't make it into the show. At the Boston tryout for the musical, Sondheim had another song called "Happily Ever After," which had Bobby deciding he would rather be alone, for now. Harold Prince deemed "Happily Ever After" "the bitterest, most unhappy song ever written." So Sondheim took some of the lyrics to "Happily Ever After" and recrafted them into "Being Alive," a more optimistic take on the promises of marriage.
- Company's lacerating take on marriage was an inspiration for the Oscar-nominated film Marriage Story, from director Noah Baumbach. In the film, about the breakdown in a marriage, Scarlett Johansson sings "You Can Drive a Person Crazy" in one scene while Adam Driver, who plays her husband, sings "Being Alive" in another. Almost 50 years after its premiere, Company continues to be a cultural touchstone.
How to get Company tickets
Whether you're married or single, with its memorable songs and hilarious dialogue, Company will sure make you feel lucky for being alive. Someone — or rather, some show — is waiting for you to join another (five) hundred people in the seats of the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.
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