Broadway legend Patti LuPone returns to London in a new gender-reversed production of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's 1970 musical Company. The musical opened in London's West End at the Gielgud Theatre, produced by Elliott Harper Productions, a new production company set up by director Marianne Elliott and theatre producer Chris Harper.
Rosalie Craig stars in the central role of 'Bobbie' in this gender-reversed production that has been blessed by Sondheim - the first production to be allowed to change the gender of the characters. Patti LuPone will play Joanne.
Patti LuPone has played some of musical theatre's greatest characters, including Fantine in Les Miserables in London and Eva Peron in Evita on Broadway. She has also starred as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, and in Sondheim's musicals Gypsy and Sweeney Todd. She most recently starred in War Paint on Broadway, which closed in November 2017.
Rosalie Craig is known for her work in musical theatre including the world premiere of Tori Amos's musical The Light Princess at the National Theatre in 2013, for which she was nominated for an Olivier Award. Other credits include City of Angels (Donmar Warehouse), Finding Neverland (Leicester Curve), Ragtime (Regent's Park Open Air Theatre) and London Road at the National Theatre.
The original production opened on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre on 26 April 1970, where it went on to run for 705 performances and was nominated for a record-setting fourteen Tony Awards, winning six, including Best Musical. The original West End production of Company opened on 18 January 1972, at Her Majesty's Theatre, where it went on to run for 344 performances and reuniting the original cast including Larry Kert, Elaine Stritch, Joy Franz, and Donna McKechnie.
Company has since been revived numerous times in London and New York and is one of Sondheim's most frequently performed musicals. A London revival was mounted at the Donmar Warehouse in 1995 directed by Sam Mendes which later transferred to the Albery Theatre (Noel Coward) for a limited run in 1996. Adrian Lester starred in the lead role of Bobby.
Frequently billed as 'the first concept musical' Company follows Bobby a single man unable to commit fully to a steady relationship or marriage. The show begins on his 35th birthday where we see his interactions with his best friends, five married couples and three girlfriends. The musical explores his relationships through a series of short vignettes, breaking the traditional mould of a book musical. The show was successful as it represented adult themes and reflected back the lives of New Yorkers in a way that hadn't previously been seen in commercial musical theatre.
There have been frequent attempts to stage gender-reversed and queer productions of Company, but this new production is the first to have been officially licensed by Sondheim, who has agreed to changes in the text. It offers a modern, newer perspective on love and marriage, rather than the 1970s style that is usually attempted.
Director Marianne Elliott is perhaps best known for her work at the National Theatre on productions such as War Horse and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, both of which have enjoyed international success. Her final production as an Associate Director at the National was the much-anticipated revival of Angels in America.
Company tickets are available now.