The cast of the Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's Company, which originated at Cincinnati's Playhouse in the Park. Photo by Joe Sinnott, courtesy of Thirteen/WNET.
I had the best of intentions of screening the Great Performances film of the Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's Company, which airs at 9 tonight on PBS. But, to paraphrase one of my favorite Lyle Lovett tunes, "He wasn't good, but he had good intentions."
SO, life happened, and I haven't gotten to it. But the word is this is a first rate film of a first rate performance, featuring Raul Esparza in a production that has the singers playing their own instruments. If this is a Sondheim you've missed, then you must be in front of the tube tonight (It does repeat at 1 a.m. and airs again at 3 a.m. Friday and Monday, for night owls and those of you with video recorders). Years ago, back in the Dick Pardy era, a touring production rolled through the Opera House. Pardy told me one of his great frustrations was that shows needed a movie version to help sell them, and Company was a hard sell because there was no film of it. But it was a gem, and I'm really glad he badgered me to make sure I saw it. I can already hear the opening in my head -- "Bobby . . . Bobby . . . "
This version originated at Cincinnati's Playhouse in the Park, and the Cincy Enquirer's Jackie Demaline gave the Great Performances version a rave, writing:
"This Company revival was spellbinding in its original staging at Playhouse. It remained wonderful in its Broadway transfer, although adapting from a thrust to a proscenium noticeably flattened the staging. For television, 10 cameras have gone a long way to restoring the magic as friends swirl around an emotionally isolated Bobby."
Speaking of great arts television, if you missed the 60 Minutes profile of Gustavo Dudamel, check this out:
CBS is the only major network that still devotes quality time to covering performing arts, primarily on 60 Minutes and Sunday Morning, and Bob Simon's piece on the conducting prodigy is a prime example. It conveys the excitement swirling around the 26-year-old conductor who took New York by storm in the fall and will be taking over the Los Angeles Philharmonic. I don't normally sit in front of my computer for 12-minute video clips, but this is well worth it (there is a commercial before the segment, but it wraps up quickly).