The University of Sheffield
Department of Music

19 December 2008


Sheffield Telegraph, 12 December 2008
By Bernard Lee

COMPANY, generally regarded as the musical that began the Stephen Sondheim cult, gets a couple of staged performances from Sheffield University music students at the Montgomery Theatre next week. The performers' status is not a deterrent, even without the show's director Freda Chapple of the university's Institute for Lifelong Learning, saying: "These youngsters; they're marvellous."

She has immense talent at her disposal for the Department of Music-generated production.

It was prompted by French music and Messiaen expert Nigel Simeone who also has a passion for American musical theatre and teaches a module on it in the department.

Self-confessed Sondheim addict Freda says: "Nigel wanted to do an American musical because they have a really good crop of singers in the department at the moment. He suggested Company – he's so knowledgeable on Sondheim, and asked me to direct it.

"It certainly fits them. They're having to act up a bit because they're a little too young for the characters but these youngsters are up for anything. They're wonderful and it's been enormous fun."

A concept musical without a delineated plot-line, the piece is a series of short scenes revolving round 35-year-old bachelor Robert, also referred to as Bobby, who has three girlfriends and five married friends and their spouses with various issues between them who gather in a New York appartment to celebrate his birthday.

The work's origins were 11 one-act plays by George Furth linked by a single character. He showed them to Broadway impressario Hal Prince and both agreed that a musical was lurking within them. Furth duly wrote the book and Company was premiered in 1970.