Company: A curious coming of age tale in a musical

Just imagine for a minute that you’re a grown man.  

Here’s your checklist: Handsome? Yep. Charming? Check. Both? Double-check! Good career? Of course. All of this has the ladies lining up. 

So, what’s the problem? Only the fact that all of your best friends are married and that they are making you rethink absolutely everything, even if they don’t know it. And to top it all off, there’s the middle-aged milestone of your 35th birthday to contend with. So what do you do? You do what you can, which is only human — you go along with it. 

Robert, or Bobby to his closest friends, is the lead character in a new production playing in Vancouver about a man in New York who is unlucky in love, but not necessarily in life. This multi-award winning musical drops the audience head first into his life revolves around these varied, deep and complex people. They, and the production, are known as Company.

Acclaimed writer George Furth is credited for the book while musical theatre icon Stephen Sondheim transformed it into the musical masterpiece for stage that it is today. Company still winks a curtained eye to the so-called “dog whistle shows” that popped up during the 1970s on behalf of the theatre-going populace who could not speak their minds on the social taboos of the time. When the musical first came out, the short, stylistic vignettes that told the story were a groundbreaking new style that paved the way for other plays like it.  

Vancouver’s version of Company boasts a huge production itself in part because of this pedigree and in part because of those who truly make it come alive.

As a UBC theatre grad and lead in Company, Nick Fontaine reminisces about his school days and shares with us his thoughts on Company’s upcoming opening night. A solid career off-campus has been in the works for almost a decade now, but several other members of the cast are also recent UBC graduates. 

Looking back, he remembers the UBC Theatre program as “insanely busy” with limited free time. That hectic schedule doesn’t just go away once one leaves school. 

“You only get the chance to meet those new people after they’ve graduated,” said Fontaine. Such is the life of a thespian – rewarding, in-depth and challenging. 

The cast of Company comes from the vast network of talent that spans Canada. A musical theatre performance requires just that much more effort and teamwork than a normal production.

“There are a lot of chefs making this soup, but we all get along really well,” said Fontaine. “It’s not always the case with large shows and lots of different personalities, but we’re blessed to have people that enjoy working with each other so much.”

Timeless in its ability to openly question life and love as well as also be reimagined 46 years after its first record-breaking Broadway debut, United Players present Company.  

Funny, thoughtful and surprisingly moving, the musical opens January 22 at the Jericho Arts Centre Theatre.