culture

In Good Company

The musical is set on the eve of confirmed bachelor Bobby’s 35th birthday. His married best friends are voices in his head, guiding him as he navigates the pitfalls of romantic relationships, trying to figure out if he’s single by choice or fate. Through flashbacks, we gain insight into the highs and lows of married life.

Come October 28th, Dartmouth Players Theatre roars back to life with its upcoming musical Company. Originally penned during the 1970s, Company was written by George Furth with musical arrangements by Stephen Sondheim.

Director Laura Thornton. Photo credit: MJ Photographics.

Director Laura Thornton. Photo credit: MJ Photographics.

Helming this beloved cult-classic is Laura Thornton. Company is is the third full-length musical Thornton has directed in Halifax. Her other credits include Little Women (MNPHA) in 2011 and The Last Five Years (Saints Alive!) in 2013. She has also directed Fringe shows, cabarets, and improv shows in both Halifax. “Hello Dartmouth” was fortunate enough to ask some questions to her about the upcoming show:

Carey Bray

For those unfamiliar with Furth and Sondheim’s work, can you first of all provide us with a brief synopsis of the play?

Laura Thornton

The musical is set on the eve of confirmed bachelor Bobby’s 35th birthday. His married best friends are voices in his head, guiding him as he navigates the pitfalls of romantic relationships, trying to figure out if he’s single by choice or fate. Through flashbacks, we gain insight into the highs and lows of married life.

Anders Balderston as the lead, Bobby. Photo credit: Ken Thompson of Snap'd Dartmouth

Anders Balderston as the lead, Bobby. Photo credit: Ken Thompson of Snap’d Dartmouth

Carey

So why did you pick Company? What sets this production apart from the musical pack?

Laura

I love musical theatre- the ability it has to enhance storytelling through music is magical to me. I’m drawn to shows that are contemporary (both in style and music) and are a little on the darker side. I first saw Company in 2006 and I was floored by it. It’s a dark comedy with characters that I recognize and empathize with. It’s relatable to audience members regardless of where they are in their own life. It’s stuck with me for the last nine years and as I’ve gotten older; it’s a story that I’ve really wanted to tell. Plus, I’ve done a few shows at Dartmouth Players and last year when I was running the booth for their musical Mid-Life: The Crisis Musical I realized that the space was perfect for my vision of the show as something small and intimate. So I pitched it and The Board was generous enough to say yes.

Carey

That’s really interesting. It’s great to know and have seen shows that Dartmouth Players does and to know that they’re not afraid to gravitate towards slightly darker fare in community theatre.

Laura

I agree. To my knowledge, Company has only been performed once before in Halifax. It’s definitely a show with a cult following- Sondheim fans are rabid- so it was a really lovely surprise to find out that Dartmouth Players found a way to fit it into their season.

Carey

Well crowd turnout for musicals at Dartmouth Players is always high. Looks like your cultists will have to book early. With your directorial experience, what will make this production different than other Company revivals people may have seen before?

Laura

Well, I’m hoping it’s a fresh take on the material. The showwas written and set in the 70s, but we’ve updated that to the “recently ambiguous past,” and I’ve tried to update the sense of humour as well. Often, this show is done in a very serious way and I think we’ve done a good job of finding the humour so the serious moments land a little more potently.

I’m incredibly fortunate to be working with the team I have whose experience and vision have helped me shape this show into what it is. I have to give huge thanks and credit to my Musical Director, Choreographer, and Stage Manager.

Sarah Richardson (Musical Director), Ian Gilmore (Choreographer) and Laura Thornton (Director). Photo Credit: Ken Thompson of Snap'd Dartmouth

Sarah Richardson (Musical Director), Ian Gilmore (Choreographer) and Laura Thornton (Director). Photo Credit: Ken Thompson of Snap’d Dartmouth

Carey
I’m glad you mentioned the cast because that was my next question. Aside from the       more obvious musical requirements, what were you looking for in your actors during auditions and how have they delivered?

Laura

The musical requirement of course is huge in this show, but I was looking for people who sparkled in their audition. Who, even if they didn’t have the strongest audition, could take direction and had strong personalities on stage. It’s an interesting show in that you have to pair the actors without them being in the auditions together. It’s fourteen distinct personalities who come together as a real team to put on this massive show. Couples need to “match” so to speak. The characters are all very distinct so it makes casting both very easy and very difficult, if that makes any sense. I’ve really enjoyed watching the actors find themselves in the characters and build the confidence to really nail it in front of an audience.

 

Carey

I definitely know what you mean- I’ve been part of some big casts myself as an actor. I know how much thought would have to have gone into casting. Having looked at your cast list and seeing names of actors whom I know personally, I think it’s safe to say we can expect some very exciting things.

Cast of Company, Photo credit: Ken Thompson of Snap'd Dartmouth

Cast of Company, Photo credit: Ken Thompson of Snap’d Dartmouth

Laura

Hopefully! It’s a great mix of actors I’ve worked with before, new faces, and old familiars at Dartmouth Players. Everyone knocks it out of the park and I’m hoping there are some really lovely surprises for the audiences who may know some people in the cast for only one thing.

Carey

Amazing! Thanks so much for answering all my questions. Hope you break some serious legs during your run and I hope I get a chance to check it out.

Laura

Thanks, Carey.

Company runs October 28th – November 14th. Tickets are $14 and $17, available at https://secure.ticketpro.ca/?lang=en&server=ww3#def_1117039354 or in person at Alderney Landing box office. To purchase tickets by phone, call 1-888-311-9090. Tickets may also be purchased at the door, pending availability, Cash Only accepted at the door.