The road to Workshop Players in Amherst, OH, is a pleasant trip, lined with open fields, healthy trees, and an occasional NRA flag flying at full mast. The trip was made more pleasant by ending with a very nice production of Company, led by Ian Atwood in the role of Bobby. Company is a musical based on a book by George Firth, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The plot involves around Bobby (Atwood), a 35 year old single man, who is unable to commit to any kind of stable relationship, or god forbid, marriage. Linked by a celebration for Bobby’s 35th birthday, the musical is a series of vignettes, featuring five married couples, and three girlfriends that surround Bobby with advice, and opportunities to settle down.
Director Jennifer Bertoni has cast an appealing group of actors who generate a lot of good will on stage. The actors range from seasoned pros, up and comers, and those that are getting their feet wet and hold great promise. As Musical Director, Andrew Bertoni has made the unfortunate decision to use an electric piano for the only musical accompaniment for the show. This leads to a muddled sound on many numbers, and eliminates any chance for the music to add emotional weight to the numbers. The Choreography works, the first major number seems a bit squished, and however, the act two opening moves nicely and generates more fun.
However, the cast doesn’t seem to care about any distractions, because they end up just having a ball. As Bobby, Atwood presents a well-constructed, gentle, kind character, who is certainly not undersexed. He is blessed with a fabulous voice which enables him to belt glorious notes and float tenor notes that are emotional gifts. Atwood stands grounded against the revolving human dysfunctional planets. Sarah (Deb Burrow) and Harry (Jonathan O’Toole) are a great couple. Watching them navigate their addictions to Sara Lee and alcohol is a hoot. The fact that karate seems a popular way to release stress, just makes you want to get a beer and a shot with them even more. Susan (Victoria Fritzman) and Peter (Kevin Boland) make their mark with Fritzman’s fierce soprano vocals and southern charm, while Boland delivers a very honest and funny balcony scene, where he shares a scenario he has been thinking about. Jenny (Emmalea Linder) and David (Alex Craig) are my favorite couple. Very honest and funny. The scene getting high is well balanced and executed with great results. Amy (Kayla McDonald) and Paul (Aaron Smith) have the classic wedding scene. McDonald is a fabulous neurotic hot mess, nails her patter song, and shows her acting chops with Atwood with her honest resolve to getting married. Smith is quiet on the assist, as he should be, and adds good vocals. Joanne (Jayne Kacik) and Larry (Ted Williams) bring some mature realness to the table. Williams creates a handsome, gentle soul, who loves Joanne to a fault. From time to time, it was hard to hear him. But he is a great compliment to Kacik, who establishes dominance and stage presence the moment we see her. She is a fireball of talent and engaging characterization. She cuts through this musical like a seasoned pro, and the results are fabulous.
Through Bobby’s journey, we meet his girlfriends; April (Shelbey Linder), Marta (Kristina Rivera), and Kathy (Kelsey Rice). The three conjoin to create a feisty “you could drive a person crazy,” but I don’t understand the staging of why Kathy is not singing to Bobby, when the other two are selling their goods directly to him. Linder takes a sardonic approach to April, but the payoff is the delivery of “I have nothing else to say.” Comedic gold. Rivera is shimmering confidence and dispenses some fierce vocals. Rice provides the on-off girlfriend realness, and shares an honest and beautiful scene about Cape Cod.
This is a cute show, with a good group of actors working hard and having fun. Take a trip and support Community Theatre in Amherst.
Director Jennifer Bertoni, Music Director Andrew Bertoni, Stage Manager Greg Friedman, Production Manager Dawn Watson, Scenic Designer Dan Marchand, Choreographer Jennifer Bertoni, Assistant Choreographer Jessica Atwood, Costume Designer Becky Linder (nice job), Lighting Designer Matt Gould.
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44820 Middle Ridge Road
Amherst, OH 44001