Skip to Content
Posted on Friday, Oct. 22, 2004 — 5:32 PM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. ñ "Company," Stephen Sondheim’s grown-up look at love
and marriage, is the second production of the Vanderbilt University
Department of Theatre’s 2004-2005 season.
The comedy, one of Sondheim’s most popular works and winner of the 1971
Tony Award for Best Musical, "holds up well in terms of its music and
its ideas," said Jeffrey Ullom, assistant professor of theatre at
Vanderbilt and director of the production. "But to be 35 and unmarried
in 1971 is much different than to be 35 and unmarried today.
"Traditionally, this musical is presented as a cute show about a single
man, his crazy married friends and his eventual willingness to be
married. Since none of the (college-age) cast is married, we’re making
the show more about relationships and one man’s resistance to commit
and getting rid of his idealistic and simplistic view of what marriage
is like and should be like," said Ullom, who was recently named "Best
Director" in Nashville Scene’s 2004 "Best of Nashville" issue.
"Company" concerns a single man named Robert, who, on the occasion of
his 35th birthday, begins to think he should settle down. Pausing on
his apartment doorstep, sensing that his closest friends ñfive married
couples ñ are inside waiting to throw him a surprise party, Robert
reflects on the varying states of their respective unions and the
larger themes of commitment, being single in the city, companionship
"In the end, the single man’s black-and-white view of love and marriage
becomes more convoluted and confused," said Ullom. "In this sense, I
think the show speaks to young people about how we change and have to
adapt to the struggles of any relationship ñ how we have to find
certainty in ourselves before we can find comfort in another person."
"Company" broke the stylistic mold when it first appeared on Broadway
in 1970. Often labeled a "concept musical," it comprises short scenes
in no particular chronological order, all apparently taking place in
Robert’s memory during a single moment of his birthday party. Featured
songs include "The Little Things You Do Together," "Another Hundred
People," "Getting Married Today," "The Ladies Who Lunch" and "Being
Musical accompaniment for this production consists of two pianos and a
single percussionist ñ a thematic choice, says Ullom. "Just as the
man’s illusions are being stripped away, the music is stripped down and
The intimate and versatile setting of Neely Auditorium allows the
director to be creative in his staging of the production.
"Traditionally, musicals are performed with the audience on one side,
but our theater allows us to explore different relationships with the
audience. For ‘Company,’ the audience will be on three sides of the
stage ñ offering unique challenges for the actors," said Ullom.
The Nashville Scene called Ullom’s staging of a previous Vanderbilt
Theatre production, Bertolt Brecht’s "The Caucasian Chalk Circle,"
"innovativeÖhis daring, contemporary adaptive flourishes and his
youthful, energy-plus cast combined for a thrilling production that was
a lot hipper and smarter than anyone had a right to
"Company," with music and lyrics by Sondheim and book by George Furth,
opens Thursday, Nov. 4, at 8 p.m. in Neely Auditorium on the Vanderbilt
campus. Additional performances will follow on Nov. 6, 7, 11, 12 and 13
at 8 p.m. each evening. Tickets are available at Neely Auditorium, and
admission is $7 for the general public, $4 for graduate students and
free for undergraduates.
To reserve tickets, call 322-2404. For more information about Vanderbilt Theatre or upcoming productions, visit http://sitemason.vanderbilt.edu/theatre.
Media contact: Kara Furlong, (615) 322-NEWS
There are lots of ways to keep up with Vanderbilt. Choose your preferred method: