20-Day Countdown! The Top 20 Tony Performances of My Lifetime: #18: COMPANY, 2007

Eighteen days until the Tony Awards!  We are at #18 on my 20-day Countdown of the Top 20 Tony Performances of My Lifetime.

If you know anything about me at all, you know that, like all theater nerds who are truly theater nerds, I live and breathe (and eat and shit) Stephen Sondheim.  The man is a witty, brilliant, impossible, perfect lyricist and composer genius bastard, and Company is one of his all-time greatest shows.    The original Company did not come out in my lifetime, but in 2006, there was splendidly a revival of it that knocks my socks off, complete with a new cast recording and a filming of the staged production (that you can stream on Netflix!), and led by the stellar Raúl Esparza.  Esparza plays the perfect Bobby, an approaching-middle-age single man whose singleness is the obsession of his married and completely dysfunctional, destructive, and relationship-retarded friends.  They want a say in everything he does relationship-wise, while thinking they all know best; and he observes their dysfunctionality with confusion and fear, unable to get his feet wet or to take any plunge, lest he turn out like _these people_.

Unlike most Sondheim shows that open and close rather quickly due to their obscure subject matters and quirky melodies, the original cast of Company performed for 705 performances.  The 2006 revival, in which the actors act and sing while ACCOMPANYING THEMSELVES on their own instruments (!), ran for 246 performances and won a 2007 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical.  Here is the great Raúl Esparza at the 2007 Tonys, accompanying himself on piano, playing the perfect, Tony-nominated lead role of Bobby, and singing one of the greatest Stephen Sondheim songs ever written, the show-stopping “Being Alive."  Wait for that ending, kids.

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