No Refund Theatre Presents: ‘Company’
No Refund Theatre (NRT) continued its fall catalog with one of its last shows for the fall semester with its presentation of “Company.” Viewing of the musical is available for students from Thursday, November 30, to Saturday, December 2.
“Company” is an original musical comedy by Stephen Sondheim, who is often accredited to reinventing the American musical. Ella Brandner, a senior studying secondary education, directed NRT’s take on the famous musical.
The show opens with Robert on the night of his 35th birthday, struggling to create a birthday wish. Surrounded by his married friends, he contemplates his life as an unmarried man in New York City with no prospects of marriage. He’s uncertain whether or not he should feel content with his single life or if he should wish for and seek out a romantic partner.
The show follows Robert as he discovers the good, bad, and in-between of married life by observing his friend’s relationships. Through a series of visits, dinner parties, and conversations with his comedic and sometimes outrageous friends, Robert begins to understand the meaning of marriage and why he might still be single.
Sondheim’s “Company” is a case study into the life of an unmarried man as he attempts to make sense of connection, vulnerability, and self-discovery.
Bradner, the show’s director, spoke on her love for “Company” and how important it was for her to make her last show as a director at NRT a musical.
“I love this show, and I love all of Sondheim’s work,” she said. “He is a titan of musical theatre, and I adore his shows.”
“I looked through my catalog of shows I’m familiar with and ‘Company’ just clicked,” Bradner continued. “It’s a smaller cast in terms of musicals, but it’s a larger-than-life story. It’s a very silly show but also very heartfelt at moments.”
Coordinating a large-scale musical in a classroom was a challenge in producing the show.
“The beauty of theatre and the beauty of this show in particular is that it can be as big or as small as you want it to be,” she said. “The material is there, but the best part about theatre is interpreting the work and the director’s vision. You can do this show on Broadway, or you can do it in a small classroom.”
“I think Sondheim especially does a great job with writing work that can be adapted to fit anyone’s needs and also for the audience. The audience can have numerous interpretations of the work,” Bradner continued.
Tess Murphy, who plays one of the wives in the show, Sarah, shared her experience joining the cast.
“I was really excited to work with Ella, and I also really love musicals. I think NRT is a great way to get into musicals,” Murphy said. “I was really excited to try something new.”
“Sarah is very energetic, and I definitely try to amp that up. She teases a lot and getting into that, and her character was very fun,” Murphy continued.
A large portion of the show involves complicated dance numbers and choreography, which Murphy and other cast members were wary of at first.
“Our choreographer talked to each of us individually to know our limits and what we were comfortable with doing. At moments during dances, we had to be in character at all times,” Murphy said.
Murphy also spoke on her character’s marriage.
“At the end of the day, they can fight and still like each other in the end,” she said. “I think that’s a really important part of marriage that you can fight, argue, disagree, but you can still go to bed happy with each other.”
Perry Drugan, who plays Amy in the show, also shared her experience being involved in the show.
“I’ve known about this musical for a very long time,” Drugan said. “I find this musical very interesting because there is constant action and conversation going on while the plot is a very basic storyline with very colorful characters and scenes.”
“Robert isn’t trying to find love, he’s just trying to accept that he doesn’t have it,” Drugan continued.
One of Drugan’s scenes midway through the play depicts her character second-guessing getting married in an action-packed scene.
“For something like that, it was tough. I really wanted to portray her as comedic because that song is very popular, and a lot of people know it,” she said. “It’s a very funny song and scene, but underlying all of that is a real person with real-life worries and anxieties.”
Ethan Leicht who plays the main character of the show, Robert, conveyed his love for the show and Robert as a character.
“I’ve wanted to play Robert for the longest time,” Leicht said. “He’s a very complex character. And at the time when the show was created, it was revolutionary. It depicts themes that we can all relate to. It depicts relationships realistically, the good, the bad, and the ambivalence that Robert represents. He has doubts and insecurities about who and how he is going to spend his life with, which are things I can relate to.”
“I have watched many versions of Robert over the years, so making him my own was a challenge. The way I approached it was by getting up there and playing a version of myself and dealing with the situations Robert is struggling with. I tried to find a balance that most matched my own disposition,” Leicht continued.
“Robert observes his friend’s relationships and points out the flaws of their marriages, but he also notices the beautiful things about marriage,” he said. “I think he’s very conflicted until the end where he accepts himself.”
No Refund Theatre offers free shows to any viewers interested. Showings of “Company” will begin at 9 p.m. on Thursday, November 30, with two shows at 8 p.m. on Friday, December 1, and Saturday, December 2. All shows will be in Forum 111.
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