Arts & Culture

PW production blends comedy, philosophy

Contributing Writer
Friday, October 26, 2012

For those that enjoy musical theater, shiver-worthy harmonies, a dazzling cast and upbeat dance numbers, Production Workshop’s “Company” will be sure to delight. In contrast, anyone more philosophically-minded will appreciate the nuanced, soul-searching plot brought to life by the depth and clarity of the characters. And those just looking for a laugh will certainly get it – though the themes are heavy, witty dialogue keeps the show light and fun to watch.

Opening tonight in the Downspace, “Company” is the story of single and thirty-something Bobby, a perpetual good friend and complicit third wheel, played by Jesse Weil ’16. Though he’s surrounded by good friends and has the freedom to pursue any girl he chooses, deep down, Bobby wishes for something more: a meaningful relationship, a wife and a family. The musical delves into his innermost thoughts and desires, touching on themes of aging in the modern world and self-definition.

Director Rachel Borders ’13 said she has always loved everything about “Company” – the music, the plot and how each scene can stand on its own. Borders said she chose the musical because it was “colorful and interesting.” Her overarching vision for the show was to get the audience to understand what it felt like to be Bobby, and she wanted a feeling of “claustrophobia” in both the set and Weil’ portrayal, she said.

“Bobby is a chameleon trapped by friends and relationships,” she said. “He lets them change him … he isn’t assertive until the end of the show.” 

Borders said she wanted audience members to examine their own relationships after watching the show. The essential question of “Company,” she said, is “Do you define your relationships, or do they define you?” 

Borders said that though she has never directed or been a part of a Production Workshop show, she loved the process. “Everyone involved seems just as happy with the production as I am,” Borders said. 

She said her crew was integral to the success of the production, and the technical aspects of the show attest to that statement. Particularly impressive are the lighting and sound crews and the live orchestra accompaniment. 

The set is ethereal but stark – the color scheme is black and gold, evoking the feeling of a subway station. Borders said she wanted the set to have a sense of motion due to its setting in New York City. The lighting adapts to the atmosphere of each scene. During one of Bobby’s many epiphanies, he is lit solely from behind, creating a dramatic silhouette.

Weil said he was most able to connect to Bobby through their shared personality traits, as they’re both “a little sarcastic, but genuine and friendly.” 

“He wears his heart on his sleeve,” Weil said. He said both he and his character care about the people around them but at times too much. 

Weil said he found the themes of adulthood and marriage difficult to portray due to his inexperience. “I’m only 18,” he said. 

The rest of the cast is also extraordinarily talented, and each character brings their distinct flavor to the show. Bobby’s friends are an eclectic group of couples, a representation of the diversity of the cast itself – Borders said she sought to cast actors from any and all class years. The other main characters consist of Bobby’s Rolodex of lovers, from the fiery Christina Ames ’15 to the more tame Hannah Magolin ’16 and Ellen Zahniser ’14.

Standout songs from the show include the opening number “Company,” “You Could Drive a Person Crazy”- sung by Bobby’s trifecta of women – and “Getting Married Today.”

Weil said he hopes that audience members enjoy the play for its divergence from the typical musical in that it has a subtly happy ending. “Love is worth it, but it can hurt,” Weil said.

“Company” is playing Oct. 26-29 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 28 at 2 p.m. 

Correction Appended: An earlier version of this article wincorrectly stated that Jesse Weiss ’16 plays the lead role of Bobby in the Production Workshop’s “Company.” In fact, Jesse Weil ’16 plays the role. The Herald regrets the error.

  • Emma Johnson

    Weiss, you are the best xox

  • Gage

    Weiss, call me

  • Annie Kocher

    i like them young 😉 … only 18