Great Performances: Stephen Sondeheim's Company With The New York Philharmonic

Updated Fri, Nov 15, 2013 12:40 pm

Thursday, November 14 • 9 p.m.

Great Performances  presents the New York Philharmonic’s concert staging of Stephen Sondheim’s award-winning musical Company with an all-star cast including (in alphabetical order) Craig Bierko (as Peter), Stephen Colbert (as Harry), Jon Cryer (as David), Katie Finneran (as Amy), Neil Patrick Harris (as Robert), Christina Hendricks (as April), Adam Lazar (as Paul), Patti LuPone (as Joanne), Jill Paice (as Susan), Martha Plimpton (as Sarah), Anika Noni Rose (as Marta), Jennifer Laura Thompson (as Jenny), Jim Walton (as Larry), and Chryssie Whitehead (as Kathy).
Captured from the stage of Avery Fisher Hall at New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the musical will air Friday, November 8 at 9 p.m. on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances, as part of the PBS Arts Fall Festival. (Check local listings.)
Sondheim specialist Paul Gemignani conducts Jonathan Tunick’s original orchestrations arranged for a 35-piece orchestra. Lonny Price — who directed SONDHEIM! The Birthday Concert on Great Performances, directs; Josh Rhodes is the choreographer.  Ellen M. Krass produced this concert production for broadcast.
Set in a swinging New York City evocative of the time of the show’s 1970 Broadway debut, Company follows perennial bachelor Robert (Harris) on the occasion of his 35th birthday as his five married couple friends gather to celebrate and offer varying degrees of relationship advice.   Their interactions are presented in a series of vignettes, primarily through Robert’s eyes. The show’s many Sondheim standards include “Company,” “Side by Side by Side,” “The Ladies Who Lunch,” “Another Hundred People,” “Barcelona” and “Being Alive.”  In assessing the performance, Stephen Holden in The New York Times praised “the suave, dynamically subtle contribution of the mighty Philharmonic” as well as “the witty musical staging.”
With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by George Furth, Company first opened on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre on April 26, 1970, produced and directed by Harold Prince. The show ran for 705 performances and received the 1971 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Lyrics, Best Set Design, and Best Direction of a Musical, among 14 nominations. It has returned in various revivals, most recently in 2006 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Broadway, with Raúl Esparza as Robert, in a production that was also broadcast on Great Performances.
Paul Gemignani has been the music director of more than 40 Broadway and West End shows, including Follies, Pacific Overtures, Candide, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Evita, Dreamgirls, Merrily We Roll Along, Into the Woods, On the Twentieth Century, Sunday in the Park with George, Jerome Robbins’s Broadway, Crazy for You, Passion, High Society, and Kiss Me, Kate. In 2004 he was the music director for Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins, The Frogs, and the Japan National Theatre Company’s production of Pacific Overtures.