Company (2006 Broadway Revival)

Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by George Furth. Originally directed by Harold Prince.

Dir. John Doyle. Starring Raul Esparza, Barbara Walsh, Elizabeth Stanley

Writing my Wrath of Khan review in the “as-I-watch-it” style was rewarding for me, largely because I’d  been trying to write any review of that movie for the past week and just failing miserably. That allowed me to talk about most of the things which had been on my mind regarding Khan (though I regret not being able to write about why one doesn’t film the Great American Novel), and it was good to essentially publish some decent notes.

I’m going to do the same thing, roughly, with a performance from 2007 of Company, one of Stephen Sondheim’s earlier solo musicals (first performed in 1970). Company, to be succinct, is revolutionary. It’s axiomatic that American musical theater can be split into everything before Show Boat and everything after Show Boat (which was first performed in 1927), but I don’t think you’d be wrong to say that there’s a real difference between pre-Company and post-Company. Broadway shows had never embraced realism before, and the endings were overwhelmingly happy. Plots were fairly simple, broken into linear A- and B-plots as necessary. Not that there isn’t some darkness or realism in Oklahoma!My Fair Lady, or West Side Story, but without the non-linear and realistic action of Company there is no A Chorus Line, certainly. Sweeney Todd doesn’t make it, and Evita and Miss Saigon probably don’t either. 

Company is about a thirty-five-year-old bachelor named Robert (played by several notable folks over the years, including Dean Jones and Larry Kert in the Original Broadway Cast, John Barrowman, Raul Esparza, and very recently by Neil Patrick Harris), who lives in New York and spends most of his time with his married friends. Robert’s dating a few girls, but he’s not particularly serious about any of them; what he is fairly serious about is a strong fear that he’s never going to get married. You can find the 2006 revival on Netflix Instant at the moment, which is what I’m going off of for this as-I-watch-it review. If you haven’t encountered this play before, you should start streaming and follow along. Even if you don’t, you can probably make do with the Wikipedia page open.

2:11:59– This is longer than The Wrath of Khan. Homeboy is going to have to exhibit some endurance to get through this one.

2:11:58– While we’re here, how’s about a guide: Harry is married to Sarah, David is married to Jenny, Peter is married to Susan, Paul is married to Amy, and Larry is married to Joanne. Robert isn’t married to anyone, though he’s seeing Amy, Kathy, and Marta.

2:10:39– John Doyle is a Scottish director whose go-to (he directed a revival of Sweeney Todd the year before this revival in which he did the same thing) is having actors accompany themselves on at least one instrument. Thus, you’ll be seeing Elizabeth Stanley (April) playing the oboe, the alto sax, and the tuba at different points in the show; Fred Rose (David) spends a lot of time on the cello but plays alto and tenor sax as well. I’ve spent a lot of time with this particular production and I still can’t tell if I like it or not. I do know that there are some spots where I prefer it to the alternative, and I’ll point those out along the way.

2:10:08– I love this very modern theme. Everyone’s wearing black and white, the set is black and glass. It’s really very beautiful to look at. The original Broadway production and the 2011 New York Philharmonic production with NPH as Robert both go full metal ’70s in terms of costumes, certainly, but also sets. This, to me, is much less distracting from the characters themselves.

2:09:15– Raul Esparza has a great voice and deadpans his way beautifully through this show. I think Keith Buterbaugh (Harry) plays his way through this with great affability. But the star of this production for me is Heather Laws, who plays Amy with a really fine mixture of daffiness and sensibility. She’s great here.

2:08:50– One of the things we get from all that? As much as we come to like Robert over the course of the show, it’s also made pretty clear that he’s a substantial jerk. That’s the first hint.

2:08:00– “I stood it.”

2:07:46– Amy Justman (Susan) is an excellent soprano and does well being the go-to pianist for this group…but her Southern accent is maybe the worst Southern accent I’ve ever heard.

2:04:41– “Company” is the second ‘song’ of the show (if you count the overture, which you may well do), and it’s here that we get the first dose of the word which hangs over the show itself. The lyric “just be the three of us” suggests the popular phrase, “Two’s company, three’s a crowd.” In more current vernacular, Robert is very much the third wheel in all of these relationships which involve his married friends. Yet they all still seem perfectly happy to keep him around: “Bobby, come on over for dinner: we loooooooove you.” The cliche never asks who finds that three is crowded. Is it one person, two people, or all three who react that way?

2:04:40– Also worth noting is that Company is one of the first musicals to utilize the company itself as a series of important characters instead of people who amplify volume.

2:04:26– Live performance hazards…

2:04:24– …smoothed out pretty quickly. First time I watched this, my opinion about Raul Esparza’s voice changed about three times within as many seconds.

2:03:29– “What it’s really about” is that Robert’s friends are all married; nowhere, at this point in the play, do we have a good understanding of who’s making it about marriage. Heck, at the end of the play it’s still a little up in the air.

2:03:07– There’s the Sondheim polyphony starting up, and it explodes marvelously in just a sec…

2:02:50– I like how Robert is so obviously pulled in too many different directions, I like how it becomes paramount later, and I like how the way to show that off is through said polyphony.

2:00:47– Killer opening number.

1:59:33– Oddly enough, Sondheim almost was a quiz show contestant once, back before he was a thing.

1:58:39– Prong her? I hardly even know her!

1:57:28– Harry is holding up a lot better under this than most other human beings would, I think.

1:57:10– Probably the funniest line of dialogue in the whole show.

1:56:33– My girlfriend who I don’t have a clever pseudonymic title for yet has a weird addiction to Mexican food. So despite the fact that unlike Sarah, she is not dieting, all it takes is someone to think “Mexican food” around her loudly and she immediately has very audible cravings for it. Naturally, I would be a happy man if I never touched Mexican food again, so there’s that.

1:56:09– Kristin Huffman as Sarah would get along with Randy Marsh, with occasional profanity.

1:55:27– This game of fist-down-the-pants one-upmanship is, as I understand it, how the Cold War really got started.

1:54:58– There are several things in this play which remind us that it was produced twenty good years before the Internet made it, but one of the ones which really stands out to me is that karate is treated as something arcane enough that it’s not separable from wrestling, rather than what a good third of suburban kids do after school between soccer practice and piano lessons.

1:54:11– Barbara Walsh is standing in the wings, such as they are, with a triangle. It is time.

1:53:08– This song (“The Little Things You Do Together”) is one of those wonderful showcases of Sondheim lyrics for wit rather than plot or character.

1:50:01– I’ve always found Sarah’s presumed reticence to be fascinating. According to her, she, Harry, and Robert “spend half our lives together” and yet Robert hasn’t noticed that Harry’s “stopped” drinking; he asks when they might see each other again in such a way that it’s clearly going to be planned in advance and not casual. In short, Robert has an awful lot of questions about their lives for people who he is said to see often. Even though there are several married couples that he can flit between, it’s clear that he’s not flitting between them terribly often.

1:49:35– “Sorry-Grateful” is probably the weakest song in the show, so it’s just as well that it gets out of the way pretty early. As good as it is as conveying the highs and lows of marriage, it’s just not terribly exciting. And sometimes, it’s rather closer to tautology than is acceptable.

1:47:06– Blue lighting here is appropriate for the tone of the song and sometime torch song aspects.

1:45:26– I mean, has anyone associated with this production even heard a Southern accent before?

1:44:53– Temple Drake she ain’t, let me tell you that.

1:44:30– Out of all the couples in this show, I think Peter and Susan, despite getting the least time on stage, have got to be my favorite.

1:43:24– One does not often get to see a grown man in a suit who’s sitting pretzel-style with a cello on his lap, and yet here we are.

1:41:41– For all of the talk about unfulfilling marriages in this show, this still might be the most relatable part. I think everyone has watched some figurative (and before you finish this sentence, let’s emphasize the word “figurative”) deflowering of an innocent in some way. Especially if you went to college. Or to Europe. Or, maybe best of all, went to Europe to do college.

1:40:00– Y’all have seen Four Weddings and a Funeral, right? I’m glad, because that’s a charming flick if ever there was one. Robert is the ur-serial monogamist that Hugh Grant apes.

1:37:45– Look, moving saxophones.

1:37:44– This is not quite our last interaction with David and Jenny, the last of the three “minor couples,” such as they are in this show. But Harry and Sarah are having verbal and physical fights, Peter and Susan are getting divorced, and David and Jenny have an odd, hard to touch rift between them. Think about how far away they’ve been on stage for the majority of this scene.

1:37:38– Notice how he’s only said “the flight attendant’s” name once so far. In the first song.

1:37:24– In 2011, Marta was played by Anika Noni Rose, probably best remembered for not being Jennifer Hudson or Beyonce in Dreamgirls. In 2006, she’s played by Angel Desai. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence that Marta, the “fun” one, is often played by a woman of color opposite a role which is almost always played by a white man.

1:36:52– Remember when I said that the alternative to accompanying oneself was sometimes inferior. Try the NY Philharmonic’s “You Could Drive a Person Crazy” on for size and then compare the fit to the 2006 revival’s.

1:36:22– I’m not old enough to remember the wunnerful wunnerful Lawrence Welk Show, but I have good reason to believe it was not far off from this.

1:35:39– Leenya Rideout is rockin’ out back there on the double bass.

1:35:06– Man, Angel Desai just has to carry the harmony in this song.

1:32:40– David and Jenny really have the relationship that chills me the most. Harry and Sarah are quite literally at each other’s throats, while Peter and Susan are going the civilized route. But at least those couples appear to be very honest with one another. David is just mean about Jenny in a way which isn’t encouraging; he seems to feel it as an obligation to a weaker animal.

1:32:38– Hark, a leitmotif!

1:31:44– Call me a square (or don’t if you actually love me and aren’t just stringing me along with your children and your home and your cello), but not only did I have to look up what a “Sazerac sling” was, I had to look up what the lyrics were here because I had no idea what was being sung.

1:30:57– There’s no way to carry a double bass that doesn’t make you look like this. (First on the left. While I was looking for a better picture than that, I came across a picture of the protagonists of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic dressed as various Disney princesses, which makes me want to cancel my upcoming Disney Renaissance piece.)

1:29:57– “What Do You Want to Get Married For?” blends in kind of seamlessly with Robert’s response, “Someone is Waiting.” The question is still going to stand after the second song of a tripleheader.

1:28:45– Other important question. Which is weirder: that Robert’s male friends basically recommend new sexual conquests for him, or that Robert secretly would like an amalgamation of all of his friend’s wives?

1:27:16– I have no clue why this note happens. All in all, though, this is probably the prettiest song of the musical. Not the best, not the most endearing, not the most meaningful, but the prettiest. Also the creepiest, so it has that going for it.

1:25:58– “Another Hundred People” is one of the hardest songs to sing in the whole of this musical. Other songs have genuinely tricky notes. For example, “Company” has some potential pitfalls for the actor playing Robert. The note for “ny” on “in comes company” is really tricky, and of course it takes an actual tenor to hit the forte “really about!” The passage in “Someone Is Waiting” which melds “But maybe so has she” and” My blue-eyed Sarah” is also difficult, because you need enough air towards the end to jump cleanly to “crazy Amy,” which Esparza, to his credit, does without making it look hard. “Upholstered walls with the crude remarks,” one of the lines from “Another Hundred People,” is tricky as well. “Upholstered” is high without the benefit of having a full breath before it, and “remarks,” because it has the /æ/ sound in it, will almost never sound pretty even if you’re non-rhotic.

1:25:25– That story is so stupid that you just have to imagine that George Furth must have heard it from someone who actually made that mistake.

1:23:47– Angel Desai actually kills that phrase here, doing better with it than anyone else who I’ve heard sing it. She also plays saxophone and violin during this performance, so I’m feeling pretty small right now in terms of talent.

1:23:32– This whole sequence about knowing where or when to meet and not getting messages…I mean, I ask old folks this, but how on earth did people make plans or, more importantly, adjust to changed plans without cell phones? I’ve never gotten an acceptable answer.

1:22:35– New Yorkers think that people from Massachusetts are natural and rustic. One is not born a New Yawker, one becomes one, I think, because people simply aren’t made deluded. (Here we go again with the regional thing…)

1:22:09– That line that Kathy just had there about wanting to be a wife is one of those lines that no woman ever puts in her show. Y’all know The Last Five Years? Jason Robert Brown gives his female character in that show (interestingly enough, also named Cathy) a line to sing in “The Next Ten Minutes” which goes: “I want to be your wife/I want to bear your child.” I have a really hard time believing that women actually think that when they get engaged. Michelle Duggar didn’t even think that.

1:21:36– “Have I missed her?/Did I let her go?…”

1:21:21– Guys: if a woman ever tells you that she thinks you’re a good man, buy liquor and hunker down, because there’s nothing good that can ever come from that.

1:20:02– Thus Kathy. She doesn’t do have a moment after this, which is kind of sad but also appropriate for the plot, I guess.

1:18:22– In Rent (which hit Broadway in 1996), New York is characterized as “the center of the universe.” It’s a big step from the world to the universe (and we’ll see in a moment where that happens here), but either way, sigh.

1:17:59– A decade or so before Company, Stephen Sondheim gave the world this memorable lyric: “‘Cause every Puerto Rican’s a lousy chicken!” It would be positively immortal if it were “‘Cause every Puerto Rican’s a lousy cheecken!” but we can’t always have our ‘druthers.

1:17:28– That line sort of loses its flow when you have to look up where the Nation of Street is.

1:16:54– They say that I have the best ass below 14th Street. Is it true? You’re staring again. Etc.

1:16:06– One of my professors said that when he was teaching college, he liked to show Monty Python for two reasons. First, it’s awesome, and second, the smart kids can’t hide from Monty Python. They may want to hide how smart they are from their teachers, but they can’t hide when they watch the Pythons. Watching Marta here is a similar test.

1:14:16– What a relief to relieve Justman of that accent. Phew.

1:14:07– This scene always wins. If you haven’t watched before, you’re in for a treat.

1:12:37– Another candidate for “best line of the play.”

1:11:47– It’s really unreal just how quickly Laws sings this. Only thing that readily comes to mind is, oddly enough, this. (Thinking specifically of Busta Rhymes here.)

1:11:20– “And bless this day in our hearts as it starts to rain.” Sondheim, evincing a total dearth of fear concerning his tendency to rhyme things where he wants them to rhyme even if other people wouldn’t.

1:09:07– Which is what I have now resolved to do if I ever receive hot orange juice.

1:06:58– Presumably how Alexander Portnoy ended up with the Pilgrim for any stretch of time.

1:06:10– Whatever flaws there are in writing with this show, and there certainly are a few here and there, this scene makes up for just about all of them.

1:06:06– Another thing which Raul Esparza underplays just wonderfully.

1:05:32– Who indeed? Robert’s got three buttons on his jacket like a Russian cleric.

1:03:42– Paul is quite probably the nicest male character in the whole of this show, but Amy is absolutely right to say “That’s no reason” when he says they should leave because their friends are waiting. That’s a shade of characterization, of humanization, which totally flips this scene on its head.

1:03:10– Probably the best defense of marriage that I’ve ever heard, which says a lot about the quality of the argument no matter how you interpreted that first clause.

1:01:59– It’s a surprising offer (command?) but it’s like, the third time Robert’s suggested that he married one of his friends (who’s married to another friend) in dialogue. And we had a song about it too.

1:01:56– Of course, Amy wasn’t there for any of that.

1:01:36– “Marry me. And everybody will leave us alone.”

1:01:09– One of those flaws with the writing is a weakness towards phrases like “You have to want to marry somebody, not just some body.” I’ve never understood why that’s supposed to be clever.

1:00:33– It’s so deliberate and so important that they never finish that phrase, which we know is supposed to end “we love you” and instead just ends “we love.”

1:00:16– The note for “be” there is also really difficult.

57:42– Matt Castle, the dude who plays Peter, has been owning on keyboards for a while now.

57:24– Close-ups like this make me pretty sure that Raul Esparza manages to sing out of the side of his mouth.

56:40– “Marry Me a Little” was not always an integral part of the show, and it certainly didn’t start out as the last number of Act I. It’s not like it’s essential to have it, really, but I do like some things about it: it ties up some of the threads from the first act (the emphasis on “I’m ready now” as we previously heard at David and Jenny’s, for example), it gives us the clearest picture yet of Robert’s opinion on marriage (scanty), and, probably most important of all, it’s a killer solo.

56:08– Hey, that leitmotif!

55:10– “Tell, but lie” is another line which is near and dear to my heart. It’s the same flavor as Waugh’s, “Oh God, make me good but not yet.”

55:00– At first I thought that Joanne’s “Everyone adores you! What an awful thing,” was in the same vein as “You have to want to marry somebody, not just some body.” And it is, I suppose, except that we learn by the end of the play that it is, in some ways, an awful thing to be universally adored.

54:30– The second act of a musical is terribly dull at the start. This is almost always true. Notable adherents to this rule: Phantom of the OperaSweeney ToddGodspell, CatsWicked. Notable exceptions to this rule: Miss SaigonEvita, and of course, Company. “Side by Side by Side” and “What Would We Do Without You?” manage to pull it through, though not with the pizzazz of “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.”

53:21– Last really good line for Amy in this play.

52:56– If you’re not up on your skyscrapers, the Seagram Building was designed by van der Rohe, which really says it all.

52:47– This scene features as much of the company interacting with one another as any other; no one has a clue what to do with Joanne.

52:10– First time that they actively subvert the aforementioned cliche about how many it takes to be company. Of course, this is said by the same guy who wants to be married a little, so…

51:08– Kelly Jeanne Grant (Kathy) has been twirling her flute like a baton and I’m envious of that skill. Though maybe less so with a flute.

50:16– This is another example of where accompanying yourself is better than the alternative. It’s just more interesting to watch.

50:01– “NYIH”

49:34– That Steinway is so abused…

49:20– What a nightmare this all must have been to block.

49:01– Traditionally, the “husband plays/wife plays” is a “husband does dance move/wife does dance move” thing. Again, the playing of instrument thingy wins.

48:18– I mean, come on, this method brings in the Comical Gold Kazoo, which is also the name of my ska band.

47:47– Just a nightmare to block, really.

46:42– “Why, did you hear I didn’t?

46:28– Between previews and performances proper, there were 300 total performances of this production. Given how much time Esparza spends in each show with his hand around that glass, I have a hard time believing that he doesn’t have fingers which are perpetually curled like he’s about to do the “Thriller” dance.

45:02– The next fifteen minutes or so is the part where Robert decides to embrace his villainy, much like Jon “let’s really get Jack Morris’ Hall of Fame campaign in gear” Heyman has done.

44:06– That tuba has definitely fallen over before, and I bet it really did not help build dramatic tension.

43:26– Rideout aspirated the /p/ in “poor” so hard that she could have extinguished a match.

43:11– “We’ll build a cocoon…”

43:10– This monologue always reminds me of the Commode Story from Reservoir Dogs.

42:00– She’s said her name, said her name.

40:20– Wonderful.

39:10– So here’s a line of dialogue from The English Patient which smacks to me of being the same idea: “You would stand in the room so still sometimes, as if the greatest betrayal of yourself would be to reveal one more inch of your character.”

37:32– “I bet you say that to all the boys.”

36:42– There is not a whole lot of fourth-wall breaking in this play, but that’s the moment you go for when you do it.

36:38– My English major thinks that the connection has to do with damage inflicted by predators: damage to the butterfly by the cat, damage to April by this entomologist she appears to have fallen in with, damage to the young woman waiting and betrayed by Robert, who is evincing his predatory nature now more than he has before or since.

35:41– The full list: vulgar, tacky, old, tall, aggressive, where is she from?, neurotic, peculiar, cheap, seems so dead, and, of course, “She’s tall enough to be your mother: Goliath!”

35:07– That alarm makes me want to shoot myself.

34:20– This song always makes me list all the four-syllable cities I can think of, which then inevitably end up in the song. Some examples: Yokohama, Texarkana, San Diego, San Francisco, Sarajevo (lol Franz Ferdinand), Acapulco, Ulaan Bataar, Santiago, and New York City (where they already are, so that’s too bad). Thanks for playing random geography. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. Tell you what, this’d be a totally different song in terms of feel and prosody if she was off to Ulaan Bataar.

33:41– You knew it was going to happen…why do people name their daughters for months?

32:15– The first time I saw this, like everyone else, I knew exactly how this was going to end, and I spent the whole time wondering how he was ultimately going to get out of it. All it took was a scene change, which reminds me of why my life needs to be a musical.

31:23– That play on “Endymion.” That is clever.

30:30– I think it’s great not only that divorce is the best thing to happen to Peter and Susan’s marriage, but that both of them seem to have no idea that divorce usually means someone moves out.

30:12– See, there we go with the flipped quote thing again…ugh. Come on, George Furth, play with Keats again.

29:01– Somehow I’ve managed not to notice everyone else standing up when Peter asks that question, and mercy that’s good.

27:16– One feels bad for Peter in that segment. I also think that the success of Peter and Susan’s divorce is a pleasant fictional piece of evidence which supports the idea of a civil union, without basis in sex or “family,” which would allow people to bond themselves to another legally with the benefits therein without having to make sex a part of it. Of course, since that idea ever becoming law in the USA is a fantasy in itself, perhaps it should only be supported with fictional examples.

26:18– You know who else owned a meatpacking plant in Chicago? The people who employed Jurgis Rudkus.

23:01– Joanne’s one of those people you’re supposed to feel bad for, and you do, but at the same time, you can’t help but feel like that person is also an idiot and you don’t know why they have your pity. See also: DuBois, Blanche.

22:17– “The Ladies Who Lunch” is probably the best remembered standard from this show. I’ve always been sort of bored by it. Barbara Walsh does a good job, and Elaine Stritch in the OBC did a better one, but then again, I’ve never been 35.

21:06– Ooh, Mahler.

18:37– One of the rare showtunes standards that doesn’t get applause after it.

16:45– “You wanna split?” is a great invitation to divorce.

16:00– Barbara Walsh is doing a great crocodile impression.

15:10– Paul might not be the nicest guy of the bunch. Larry might be. Goodness, Bruce Sabath just plays him with a wonderful mixture of sadness and tenacity. He barely gets used…I think of him as the only one with a clarinet as opposed to Larry often as not, but he’s such an integral part of the play.

14:06– “He’s a good man” is practically a eulogy. Second time I’ve expressed that thought in this post.

12:13– Company has the distinction of being the last musical that I really got into before I graduated college, and man, I wish I had known about “It’s very drunk out tonight” before April of 2013, because goodness knows I would have said that a few times. About others. Not me. I’m very boring. I used to think I was so odd, etc.

11:51– The second act of this show is subtitled: “Robert Receives Sundry Propositions from His Friends Because of His ‘Charisma,’ Which Attracts Attention.”

10:57– Well, there’s the rub, hm? This play is, on several levels, about Robert going from “marry me a little” to “but who will I take care of?”

9:55– Someone appears to have interrupted my leitmotif with a primal scream. Though you certainly get the point after this round of “Bobby, Bobby baby, etc.” It’s an immensely crowding effect, when you think about it: not only are these people blowing up his phone and trying to fill his time, but he’s also literally surrounded by them onstage.

9:32– The first time I saw this, I wondered if Esparza was actually going to make it through this play without playing anything more than a kazoo.

9:12– “Being Alive.” Dean Jones, Lawrence Kert, John Barrowman, Neil Patrick Harris, and, well, Chris Colfer. And if you haven’t been following along (and phooey on you if that’s the case), Raul Esparza.

9:11– I have a sense of symbolism, which I suppose is what I get for passing high school English. It was raining on the day I graduated college. The ceremony was being held in the basketball stadium; my apartment, like most other seniors, is on the other end of campus from the basketball stadium. Thus I drove as far as I could and then parked and walked the rest of the way. I had had Company running through my head for the better part of a week at that point, and thus I decided I wanted that to be the last thing I listened to/sang as an undergraduate. It was fitting in its own way. Sondheim has famously said that “Being Alive” is a copout of a finale, and I suppose he’s right in some respect. Robert turns into a feeling human being and then the show ends. Yet any song this powerful really shouldn’t be considered a copout. It’s not as famous as “The Ladies Who Lunch,” it’s not as pretty as “Someone Is Waiting,” and it didn’t lend its name to a revue based on the work of its composer. Yet it’s a truly incredible piece all the same. When done well (Kert especially and Esparza too), it’s totally raw and totally affective.

7:40– Who’s responsible for making marriage what it’s “really about” is largely an unanswered question. Is Robert responsible for letting his married friends affect him that deeply? Or is it that the married friends have thrown it in his face so often? It’s both in this song, certainly. Who bears the brunt of that responsibility is a good question to debate.

6:08– “Sing to my French horn. Do it.”

5:15– The way he’s walking is effective, I think, showing how he’s very much slogging through.

4:41– That “alive” note is pretty easy to belt, though. Esparza certainly takes advantage. It’s one of those notes that I can only get a hold of when I’m driving, because otherwise the neighbors would call and complain.

4:34– “Somebody crowd me with love. Somebody force me to care” was the watchword over graduation. This is getting mushy. Moving along.

4:00– “BEING ALIVE”

3:30– The flaw with “Being Alive” is that half of the interwoven dialogue is that flipped stuff. And here’s more…”Is something wrong?” “No, dude, it’s right. Duh. The wrong stuff was in Act I.” “Oooh.” (sharing significant nods)

2:08– Ah, a significant moment of rebirth in which, as a baby must take its first breath on a birthday, so does Robert make a massive inhalation at this moment of understanding. At least no water got poured on him. That’d just make me mad.

1:36– In conclusion: a revolutionary musical which still deserves the praise it so lavishly received back in the 1970s. I know, you could have just skipped to the end. Seriously, what did you get?

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