Company (Paradise in St Augustine’s: 4-12 Aug: 21.30: 2hrs 15mins)

“Rarely do you see this level of talent from an amateur group on a Fringe stage.”

Editorial Rating: 5 Stars

Sondheim’s multi-award-winning Company burst onto Broadway in 1970, flying in the face of popular narrative-led musicals and instead presenting a series of vignettes around Bobby, a thirty-something man, happily single, but surrounded by couples who all want to see him get hitched. While the celebration of being happily unmarried may have caused quite a stir at the time, for today’s Tinder generation the themes still have great relevance, and Company comically dissects what being in a couple is really like.

And it’s the comic element of the show that EUSOG have really mastered with their interpretation. The sneaky looks, the perfect timing, the inflections and staging all contribute to the feeling of satire the whole musical embodies, and director Grace Dickson has done a marvellous job in weaving together one consistent style through what is really quite a fragmented production.

Of course, having the right cast helps, and this one is just oozing with talent and personality. Bella Rogers is a delight as airhead April, and Ellie Millar is on point as prudish housewife Jenny, whose attempts to swear while being stoned for the first time had me in stitches. But comically it’s Kathryn Salmond as Amy who steals Act 1 with a sensational rendition of the notoriously difficult patter song Getting Married Today. It’s fast, it’s controlled, completely in character and worth buying a ticket for for those few minutes alone.

Yet while I could really pick any number of songs as stand-out highlights of this performance, it’s Esme Cook’s The Ladies who Lunch that launches this show into the stratosphere. With depth, sensitivity and a killer belt, demonstrating maturity well beyond her years, Cook delivers a goosebump-inducing class act that deserves to be witnessed far and wide. Rarely do you see this level of talent from an amateur group on a Fringe stage.

And then of course there’s the main man, Ethan Baird who brings a subtle and amusingly awkward approach to central character, Bobby. His natural charisma and swagger make him instantly likeable, and he balances the role of observer and participant in the action with ease. His Being Alive builds and teases, much like the structure of the song itself, and the rousing final chorus is delivered with aplomb – a fitting finale to a powerhouse performance throughout.

The musical style and structure of Company isn’t for everyone, and at well over two hours (with interval) it’s quite a slog. At times the choreography lacks a little polish and pizzazz, and the sound levels could do with a bit more balancing out to allow some of the vocals to really soar, but weighing all that against the sheer heart of this performance, you’d really be mad to miss it. Go alone or go with company. Just go and see Company.

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Reviewer: Steve Griffin (Seen 6 August)


+3 Interview: Merrily We Roll Along

“The musical score is punchy, lyrical and contains some of Sondheim’s most sparkling narrative writing…”

WHO: Bridget Biggar, Artistic Director

WHAT: “Following last year’s five-star reviews for Sondheim’s Assassins at the Fringe, BB Theatre Productions present a poignant, uplifting musical which explores friendship, ambition and the pressures of showbusiness, capturing the life turning points of three friends. A unique musical, portraying the disintegration of a friendship back through time to youthful confidence and hope. Sondheim’s hummable melodies and Furth’s powerful yet funny script interpreted by a professionally trained cast and live band.”

WHERE: C venues – C (Venue 34) 

WHEN: 12:10 (130 min)

MORE: Click Here!

Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

We are very excited to return to The Edinburgh Fringe after our inaugural production of Sondheim’s Assassins in 2016. This year we are excited to present another Sondheim classic, Merrily We Roll along. A poignant and uplifting musical, this heart-rending show explores friendship, ambition and the pressures of show business.

Tell us about your show.

Founded in 2015, BPTP’s mission is to bring local talent to the national stage, producing shows with professional production values, a stellar cast and professional band, and this show is no exception. We were thrilled to preview it at The Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park earlier in July. Next year we are planning on moving away from Sondheim – watch this space!

With a very short, intensive rehearsal period, we cast only those who have played leading roles in other productions and are perfectly suited to the role: we make no compromises. The chemistry and creative energy from putting top talent together to work intensively on inspirational yet stretching music theatre produces memorable and electric performances. We also work as a team with the professional musicians rather than adding them as an accompaniment.

Starting at a hedonistic Hollywood showbiz party in 1976 and working its way back to the New York rooftop in 1957, Merrily We Roll Along portrays the story of three friends who we join at the end of their friendship, tussling with disappointment, heartbreak and disillusionment with fame. The story moves back through time, each musical number perfectly scored to reflect the genre of its era and the emotional roller-coaster of its characters.

The musical score is punchy, lyrical and contains some of Sondheim’s most sparkling narrative writing including Our Time and Old Friends. As two of the friends try to make it into show business, we hear some of Sondheim’s own early frustrations with agents not daring to make the break from traditional musicals. The reverse chronology time structure heightens audience emotion, wistfully pointing out the artistic and personal compromises faced by the characters along the way. A must see, both for Sondheim aficionados, but also for anyone with a passion for musical theatre.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

Ordinary Days – it’s one of our favourites and every time we see it, we spot something new! A witty, poignant, and ultimately very relatable story about human connection and finding beauty in unexpected places.

Animalphabet – perfect for everyone with music by the Hoosiers. What’s not to like!!