The most pleasure I have had in a cinema so far this year wasn’t at a film. In 2011, the New York Philharmonic produced a brief concert revival of Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece about emotional opportunity cost, Company. For three performances only, they assembled a star-studded cast of well-known television faces including Stephen Colbert, Jon Cryer and Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks, alongside Broadway veterans like Patti LuPone, and the show was filmed in high-definition for distribution to cinemas around the world. Several Wellington picture houses are playing this sort of alternative content these days – the Metropolitan Opera etc – so, eventually, this stunning production was likely to arrive here and, golly, I am so glad it did.
In Company, Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) plays Robert – a 35 year old confirmed New York bachelor surrounded by married and soon-to-be-married friends. Throughout the show they give him some good, bad and indifferent advice about the importance of relationships versus freedom and independence versus – well – company. This is a concert production so the orchestra is on the stage rather than tucked away in a pit, and director Lonny Price does marvels with the shallow area that remains. Transitions are inventive and smooth and the characters somehow manage to relate to each other despite being – as Sondheim would have it – side by side.