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S49 Ep29

Great Performances: Keeping Company with Sondheim

Premiere: 5/27/2022 | 00:00:30 | Closed Captioning Icon

Take an inside look at the reimagined gender-swapped production as it returns to Broadway during the COVID-19 pandemic. Features new interviews with Tony and Grammy-winning cast members Katrina Lenk, Patti LuPone, Sondheim and more.

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About the Episode

Premieres Friday, May 27 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/broadwayonpbs and the PBS Video app

Filmed over two years, this new documentary takes an exclusive inside look at Tony-winning director Marianne Elliott’s creative process of bringing a reimagined gender-swapped production of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s musical “Company” to Broadway during the COVID-19 pandemic. Featuring rehearsal and performance footage, plus new interviews with Elliott, Sondheim, Katrina Lenk, Patti LuPone and members of the original 1970 cast, the broadcast tells the story of the show’s Broadway debut in a city on the verge of bankruptcy to its reimagination 50 years later as both Broadway and New York City emerge from one of the greatest crises in contemporary history.

Great Performances: Keeping Company with Sondheim is part of the series’ fifth annual “Broadway’s Best” lineup, premiering Fridays, May 13-27 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/broadwayonpbs and the PBS Video app as part of #PBSForTheArts. The spring lineup also includes the West End revival of Cole Porter’s classic musical Anything Goes, featuring Tony Award winners Sutton Foster and Robert Lindsay; and Merry Wives, recorded live from The Delacorte Theater marking the return of The Public Theater’s beloved Free Shakespeare in the Park following the COVID-19 shutdown.

Throughout its nearly 50-year history on PBS, Great Performances has provided an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural programming. Showcasing a diverse range of artists from around the world, the series has earned 67 Emmy Awards and six Peabody Awards. The Great Performances website hosts exclusive videos, interviews, photos, full episodes and more. The series is produced by The WNET Group.

#PBSForTheArts is a multiplatform campaign that celebrates the arts in America. For more than 50 years, PBS has been the media destination for the arts, presenting dance, theater, opera, visual arts and concerts to Americans in every corner of the country. Previous Great Performances programs include Romeo & Juliet from the National Theatre, The Arts Interrupted and Reopening: The Broadway Revival, as well as The Conductor, premiering Friday, March 25 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings). The collection of #PBSForTheArts programs is available at pbs.org/arts and the PBS Video app, available on iOS, Android, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. Curated conversation and digital shorts are also available on PBS social media platforms using #PBSForTheArts.

For Great Performances: Keeping Company with Sondheim: A co-production of Sabel Productions, Lone Star Productions and The WNET Group, Great Performances: Keeping Company with Sondheim is directed by Andrew Douglas and produced by David Sabel. Associate producer is Brook Crowley, with Martin Rosenbaum and Adam Low as executive producers.

For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is series producer and David Horn is executive producer.

Series funding for Great Performances was provided by The Joseph & Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Jody and John Arnhold, the Abra Prentice Foundation LLC, The Starr Foundation, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, the Thea Petschek Iervolino Foundation, the Seton Melvin Charitable Trust, the Estate of Worthington Mayo-Smith, the Jack Lawrence Charitable Trust and Ellen and James S. Marcus.

Websites: 
http://pbs.org/gperfhttp://facebook.com/GreatPerformances@GPerfPBShttp://youtube.com/greatperformancespbsgiphy.com/great-performances #BroadwayOnPBS #PBSForTheArts

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TRANSCRIPT

♪♪ -♪ Bobbie ♪ -♪ Bobbie ♪ -♪ Bobbie, baby ♪ -♪ Bobbie, honey ♪ -♪ Boo-boo ♪ -Next on 'Great Performances,' inside Stephen Sondheim's pioneering musical 'Company.'

-'Company' is the first full-blown score I wrote that's me and nobody else.

-It breaks all the rules.

It's really not what a musical should be.

-Featuring Tony Award-winning director Marianne Elliott's reimagined Broadway revival.

-♪ Your married friends ♪ -♪ Being alive ♪ -'Hmm, what would it be like if Bobby was a 35-year-old woman?'

-♪ Make me alive ♪ -I can't help but think of 'Being Alive' without weeping.

-An exclusive look at Sondheim's groundbreaking work with friends, original cast members, and the Broadway revival.

'Keeping Company with Sondheim' is next.

-Drink to that. [ Laughter ] ♪♪ -One of the most startling and thrilling things I ever saw in a museum was, there was a Mondrian exhibit at The Museum of Modern Art.

And in his early days, like everybody else, he was imitating others and that sort of thing, you see, and he's drawing representative things.

And then, you turn the corner, and there was a picture of a painting of a cow and a second painting of the cow, and it started to break apart.

And the third painting of the cow.

And by the time the fifth painting, it was almost 'Broadway Boogie-Woogie.'

He had found his voice.

-Was there a score where you found your cow?

'Company' is the first full-blown score I wrote that really -- That's me and nobody else.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -♪ Someone to hold you too close ♪ ♪ Someone to hurt you too deep ♪ ♪ Someone to sit in your chair ♪ ♪ To ruin your sleep ♪ -That's true, but there's more than that.

-Is that all you think there is to it?

-You've got so many reasons for not being with someone, but, Robert, you haven't one good reason for being alone.

-Come on, you're onto something, Bobby.

You're onto something.

-♪ Someone to need you too much ♪ ♪ Someone to know you too well ♪ -Happy birthday, Bobbie!

-♪ Someone to hold you too close ♪ ♪ Someone to hurt you too deep ♪ ♪ Someone to sit in your chair ♪ ♪ To ruin your sleep ♪ -That's true, but there's more than that.

-Is that all you think there is to it?

-You've got so many reasons for not being with someone, but, Bobbie, you haven't got one good reason for being alone.

-Come on, you're onto something, Bobbie.

You're onto something.

-♪ Someone to need you too much ♪ ♪ Someone to know you too well ♪ ♪ Someone to pull you up short ♪ ♪ To put you through hell ♪ -See what you look for, you know.

-You're not a kid anymore, Bobbie.

I don't think you'll ever be a kid again, kiddo.

-Hey, buddy, don't be afraid that it won't be perfect.

The only thing to be afraid of, really, is that it won't be.

-Don't stop now. Keep going.

-♪ Someone you have to let in ♪ ♪ Someone whose feelings you spare ♪ ♪ Someone who, like it or not ♪ ♪ Will want you to share a little, a lot ♪ -I think it was 1996, I saw a production of 'Company' at the Donmar Warehouse with Adrian Lester.

I was still trying to figure out my life and I identified with it quite deeply.

You know, single, unmarried guy.

Lots of my friends saying, 'What's wrong with you?

Why aren't you married?

So it really resonated with me.

And then cut to almost 20 years later, I found myself being a single father with twins, through surrogacy, in America.

Two premature babies, 10 weeks early.

It hit me hard just how vulnerable they were.

Every day as I walked to the hospital, I'd listen to the song 'Being Alive,' Adrian Lester singing 'Being Alive.'

-♪ Somebody hold me too close ♪ ♪ Somebody hurt me too deep ♪ ♪ Somebody sit in my chair and ruin my sleep ♪ -It really moved me and did give me courage to get through what was some really tricky days.

'Company' had been rattling around in my head for some years, ever since I'd seen it, and at the same time as having this parallel world of family and new family, I was thinking about 'Company' and thinking about my own personal situation.

And I thought, 'Hmm, what would it be like if Bobby was a 35-year-old woman?'

And because I've got so many female friends, I mean, lots of female friends who are in a position, unlike me, where they have a time clock on having kids.

And I thought, 'Well, this might be really interesting.

And I thought about it a little bit and I called Marianne and said, 'I've got this really good idea.

How about we do 'Company' with Bobby as a woman?'

-I looked at it very carefully, the script.

I didn't just want to turn Bobby into a female Bobbie just because it was a gimmick.

I wanted it to be meaningful.

I wanted to modernize it.

I wanted to set it now.

Because I think that theater has to speak to the now.

-♪ You don't live for her ♪ ♪ You do live with her ♪ -♪ You're scared she's starting to drift away ♪ -It's different if it's a woman, because so many other things come into play.

It doesn't matter how great your life is, when you reach a certain age and if you haven't settled down and you haven't made a decision as to whether that's what you want to do or not, there's going to be a lot of pressure on you.

So it felt really quite profound to turn it into a woman.

-I was intrigued and I was also intrigued just as much not about the idea, but as what Steve would of the idea.

-It was a problem.

We didn't know if Sondheim would say 'yes.'

-Let me hear it once.

-Sondheim thought about it a great deal, and one of the reasons he thought about it so much and might have not have done it with anyone else is because he absolutely was in awe of Marianne's talent.

-What Marianne does really well is, she deals with theater on a big, epic scale.

Even if it's an intimate story, she somehow manages to make the emotion of the piece burst out of it.

'War Horse' felt on a scale, an epic scale of a musical.

And 'Curious Incident,' in its own way, too, is very epic in its reach and its scope.

-When he is working with somebody that talented, he will go the extra mile to try and find, in his own mind, the reasons to respond to what they want to do.

But, you know, if he thinks it's actually subverting the material that he wrote, he won't do it.

-I said, 'Well, why don't you just let me try a workshop where we sing and read through it in the way that I'm imagining it could be done, and we'll video it and you can watch it and you can let me know what you think.'

-♪ Bobbie ♪ -♪ Bobbie ♪ -♪ Bobbie, baby ♪ -♪ Bobbie, honey ♪ -♪ Boo-boo ♪ -♪ Bobbie, darling ♪ -♪ We've been trying to call ♪ -♪ Bobbie, sugar ♪ -♪ Bobbie, sweetie ♪♪ -♪ You could drive a person crazy ♪ ♪ You could drive a person mad ♪ -I looked at it and I thought, 'My goodness, it works,' meaning I was able to understand what she was doing.

They had a very young cameraman there, and when it was all over, he said, 'Tell me about this show.'

And somebody told him, and he said, 'You mean it worked with a man?'

-[ Laughs ] Yes.

-That's the highest compliment she can get.

But I admire Marianne so much that if she said she wanted to turn into a dog, I'd probably go, 'Go on and do it.'

-I'm going to remind you of that.

-Well, you've already done a show about a dog, so it's not going to happen again.

-He was absolutely interested in where theater was going, what theater was capable of, what the possibilities were.

And that's what he wanted for his own work.

He wasn't interested in having written a bunch of museum pieces that would always be, as it were, resurrected by producers and directors.

He wanted theater to speak to the present.

-And we were doing 'Band's Visit,' and I had heard that Marianne Elliott, who I was already a big admirer of, was doing this revival of 'Company' with the genders reimagined.

Those things together -- I was like, 'What? What?

I must know more!'

-Okay, let's gather.

I wouldn't mind doing all of that again.

The way that you're doing 'Little Things,' guys, absolutely perfect.

-♪ The hobbies you pursue together ♪ ♪ Savings you accrue together ♪ ♪ Looks you misconstrue together ♪ ♪ That make marriage a joy ♪ ♪ Mm-hmm ♪ -We really wanted Patti LuPone, and she said no four times.

'Company' is all about New York, and is there anyone more New York than Patti LuPone?

-I agreed to doing 'Company' because of Marianne Elliott.

I had seen 'War Horse' at Lincoln Center Theater and 'Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime' in London.

And both times, I checked to see who the director was.

When I found out it was Marianne, I put it out in the universe that I wanted to work with this woman.

-Pardon me. Is everybody there? Because if everybody's there... -She brought me in for Paul, originally.

I asked my agent, 'Hey, could you just ask if she'll see me for Jamie?'

And she wrote back immediately and said, 'No, no, he's a Paul.

Tell him to come in for Paul.'

And so I went in for Paul, hadn't prepared anything for Jamie, and within 30 seconds of my audition for Paul, she just said, 'You're right, you are a Jamie.

Could you do Jamie?'

I was like... So they had me learn 'Getting Married Today' on the spot in the room.

-♪ But I thank you all for the gifts and the flowers ♪ ♪ Thank you all, now it's back to the showers ♪ ♪ Don't tell Paul, but I'm not getting married today ♪ -On our first day of rehearsal, we sat down, they handed us all a book of the set, and just kind of a step-through, and I cried.

It was just so beautiful.

Everything that Bunny, our costume and set designer, has done.

-When Marianne and I get together, we just -- we start going through the script and we're just riffing.

We're just, like, chucking ideas around.

We're having those conceptual or psychological conversations about the piece.

-Just, like, pulls him back, and the door's gone.

-As a designer, my job is to try and transfer that into, 'What does that mean in three dimensions?'

-'Drive a Person Crazy' was originally written for three women, and it was very much cast as an Andrews Sisters kind of number.

-♪ Knock-knock! ♪ ♪ It really isn't fair ♪ ♪ Knock-knock! ♪ ♪ I'm workin' all my charms ♪ -♪ Knock-knock! ♪ ♪ A zombie's in my arms ♪ -I quickly realized that casting it as an Andrews Sisters kind of number wouldn't really suit the moment.

-It's really a movement story, too.

The dance really tells the story of it kind of being like a cool guys group, 1960s kind of feeling, doo-wop-y.

-Often reference Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, like, the ease at which, even though they're doing difficult movement, the ease at which they do it and the ease at which they sound, so even though we're doing quite intricate a cappella arrangements, the more we can play it off that it's nothing and that we're actually in service of communicating something to Katrina as Bobbie and not just putting on something for ourselves, then the number, I think, has the chance to really work.

-♪ How long, O Lord, how long? ♪ ♪ Bobbie, baby, Bobbie, bubbi, Bobbie ♪ ♪ You could drive a person frantic ♪ ♪ You could blow a person's cool ♪ -We were heading towards our opening night, and I'd managed to align everything so our opening night was on Stephen Sondheim's 90th birthday.

So we were guiding this big ship through to that opening night.

-♪ I can be your right arm ♪ -We'd got all sorts of plans about celebrating his birthday and celebrating the success of the show.

So it felt like it could have been this extraordinary moment.

And at that point, we were in the middle of the technical rehearsals.

I think it was mid-February.

I bumped into a colleague, and we had this conversation about the virus that was existing in Wuhan, China.

And then, as we hit previews, we started hearing about more cases and we started getting very nervous.

-An usher at another theater tested positive.

They also worked at the theater next door to us.

It was all coming, and there were big meetings and all this information was filtering down.

-And then we heard that members of 'Moulin Rouge!'

tested positive, and that was just down the street.

So we knew it was on the street, on West 45th Street.

It was the unknown that was the most, I think, disturbing, unsettling thing.

-We were about 10 days until opening.

I started to see people get worried.

You know, one case turned to two and now two is at 20 and now 20 is at 40.

-Cynthia Nixon came to see 'Company' and she went backstage with Chris Harper and she said, 'You know, I wanted to do one last fun thing before the lockdown.'

[ Applause ] -♪ Here's to the ladies who lunch ♪ ♪ Everybody laugh ♪ ♪ Lounging in their caftans and planning a brunch ♪ ♪ On their own behalf ♪ -Now, Cynthia was involved in politics.

She had run for governor, so she knew what was going on.

She said, 'You know, the governor is going to close down the city.

They're going to close down everything because of COVID.'

And Patti and Chris were like, 'What do you mean?'

She said, 'He's going to shut it down.'

-I pulled everybody together and said, 'Guys, we're going to close the show.'

And we shut the theater.

As I left the theater that night, I took a photo of the ghost light, because it felt so eerie.

It's a light bulb on a pole. It's like a lamp.

And that's to stop you falling off the edge of the stage because all of the rest of the working lights are off.

And I've never taken a photo of the ghost light before, ever.

And I took a picture of it because it felt like this might be a momentous moment.

-And, yet, there was the theater and there was the set and there were the costumes and the dressing rooms just as the actors had left them, ready to come back in the next day.

-And there it just sat.

♪♪ -I couldn't believe that we had gone from nine previews in, about to open this glorious production, this dream production, and it might all be gone.

[ Singers vocalizing 'Bobbie' ] -If you listen to the score of 'Company,' you will get a sense of what New York City was like in 1970.

And there was no other show on Broadway like that, that captured what living in New York in 1970 was like.

♪♪ -♪ We love you ♪ ♪ Phone rings, door chimes, in comes company ♪ ♪ No strings, good times, just chums, company ♪ ♪ Late nights, great fights, party games ♪ ♪ Deep talks, long walks, telephone calls ♪ ♪ Thoughts shared, souls bared, private names ♪ ♪ All those photos up on the walls ♪ -The city was on the verge of bankruptcy.

Times Square was the Times Square of 'Taxi Driver.'

It was the Times Square of 'Midnight Cowboy.'

It was sleazy. It was dangerous.

-It was hardcore.

It was -- I mean, I still remember it, and, you know, it was dangerous.

And there were a lot of unsavory characters on the streets everywhere.

And there was a lot of harassment.

-You had all the porno houses and the dirty bookstores back then.

-I remember seeing 'Eruption' with Johnny 'The Wadd' Holmes in one of those theaters.

[ Laughs ] -Oh, my God.

-How do I know about Johnny 'The Wadd' Holmes?

Well, because he was a huge porn star.

But before they were porn houses, they were legitimate stages.

I wish I could have seen Times Square in the '30s and '40s, in the Damon Runyon era.

I wish I could have seen -- I wish I could have seen 'Swing Street.'

When New York was dangerous and when New York was bankrupt, New York was incredibly creative.

-♪ Company ♪ ♪ Company ♪ ♪ Company ♪ -It was still romantic to me, you know, the hustle and the bustle and the dirt and the grime.

I mean, I kind of lived in that theater world and going to classes every day and studying and still living in my dreams.

And it was New York, and I wanted to be there.

-Steve and Hal were young people back then, and they thought, 'We have to make theater relevant for people our own age.

It can't be set in the fantasy world of a Camelot.

It can't be, you know, all happy all the time.

We have to deal with what life is like today.'

-♪ Can find each other in the crowded streets and the guarded parks ♪ ♪ By the rusty fountains and the dusty trees with the battered barks ♪ ♪ And they walk together ♪ -I, of course, am old enough to have seen the first production of 'Company,' with dazzling staging by Hal Prince and Michael Bennett and a truly modern show.

It felt very, very Manhattan.

-That set -- I mean, that set!

♪♪ Coming down that elevator, that Plexiglass, I'd never seen anything like that on Broadway.

It was electric.

We never see, you know -- And everything you could see through.

It was mesmerizing!

-Boris Aronson's projections that he designed on the back -- -Slides. They had slide projections.

They had never had that before, I don't think.

-It was Boris Aronson who suggested that maybe New York would be the ideal place because there's so many -- as Boris said, so many possibilities living in New York.

-New York is a gold mine which has no precedent.

Drama doesn't take place only in living rooms.

It takes place in the subway. It takes place in a car.

It finds itself all over the place.

The thing is to get the essence of a place.

-New York City is woven into both the music and the lyrics for the songs of 'Company.'

-♪ And another hundred people just got off of the train ♪ ♪ It's a city of strangers ♪ -In 'Another Hundred People,' Sondheim, in a sound world, creates the frenetic pace of New York.

The fact that a hundred people can be talking to you at once or that fragments of conversation go by you, and you catch little bits of it as they do.

-♪ By the dusty fountains and the dusty trees with the battered barks ♪ -♪ Find each other in the crowded streets and the guarded parks ♪ ♪ By the rusty -- ♪ -Yeah, you're doing an 'A' there.

-Oh, yeah.

-It used to be an F-sharp, and it's gradually become an 'A.'

-[ Laughs ] ♪ 'Will you pick me up or do I meet you there or shall we let it go? ♪ ♪ Did you get my message, 'cause I looked in vain ♪ ♪ Can we see each other Tuesday if it doesn't rain? ♪ ♪ Look, I'll call you in the morning or my service will explain' ♪ -You have to put yourself back into young Stephen Sondheim's mind.

Theater is changing, New York is changing, society is changing.

-It was the end of that era where such things as the traditional notion of marriage was breaking down, the notion of personal commitment, the sexual freedom of the '60s.

All that was coming together and informing this piece.

So the idea of a piece about commitment and non-commitment and fear of commitment, emotional commitment seemed appropriate.

-I had never heard or seen anything that talked about those kinds of relationships, sophisticated relationships, between men and women in New York City, contemporary relationships.

And the city was so much a part of it.

The other element that was so deep-feeling for me was dealing with emotional intimacy or fear of it, and that was compelling.

That was throughout the whole piece.

-What's interesting about 'Company' is that it is -- it's a contemporary show for the 1970s.

It is set in 1970, right then and there, the way Jonathan Larson set 'Rent' in the early '90s.

-What had happened was, George Furth had written some one-act plays.

He was an actor and he was in therapy, and his therapist said, 'It might be good for you to do some writing.'

So he wrote a series of one-act plays, and he sent them to me and said, 'I don't know what to do with these.'

And I said, 'Let me send them to Hal Prince, because he's very shrewd about this sort of thing.'

Maybe he can give you some advice.

-So what you were doing was sending me a lot of terrific material, which I, by the way, thought it was.

I mean, terrific, all of it. All of it, terrific.

And saying, 'What do you think they're doing wrong?'

Steve sent them to Hal. -For advice.

-For advice.

-And instead of advice, said, 'How about a musical with these?'

And I said, 'It would be very peculiar.'

-How about you also said not -- this is interesting, in view of your character, which God knows the entire world knows well, like the back of its hand, you said yes, but you didn't say, 'Let's think about it.'

-No, I said, 'Yes.' -I said, 'Let's do this.

What do you think about doing it as a musical?'

And he said, 'I'll do it.'

-And, of course, it seemed impossible because it was these disparate plays.

So that made it intriguing.

And we spent two or three weeks talking about how to make this into a form.

-It breaks all the rules.

It's not really what a musical should be.

No, it doesn't have a narrative.

There's no narrative. [ Laughs ] There's no story.

It doesn't have a beginning and a middle and an end.

It doesn't have an 'I want' number.

It doesn't have an ensemble.

-I do like to experiment in that twilight area between revue and what you'd call narrative line, 'Company' being the first commercial musical that I know of that was halfway between.

There had been revues and there had been what we call book shows.

'Company' is about a single moment in a man's life, literally 1, maybe 3 seconds, in which something snaps inside of his head and he reviews his life to that moment.

The business of exploding a moment like that, the business of a group of memories forming your story as opposed to a plot, as in 'Follies.'

-'Company' is kind of a unicorn.

You know, the -- just the formal innovation of it.

-Also, none of the songs occurred coming out of scenes.

Each of the songs was a comment or was the entire scene itself.

And all the songs, with the exception of one, dealt with marriage or aspects of marriage, of relationships.

-♪ It's the little things you do together ♪ ♪ Do together ♪ ♪ Do together ♪ ♪ That make perfect relationships ♪ ♪ The hobbies you pursue together ♪ ♪ Savings you accrue together ♪ ♪ Looks you misconstrue together ♪ ♪ That make marriage a joy ♪ ♪ Mm-hmm ♪ -Since I had never been married and I never lived with anybody, I got your mother down here, who is about -- just having embarked on her second marriage.

-My mom, Mary Rodgers, and you knew each other from, God, the age of 15 or 16?

-Right. Yeah.

And I took out a yellow pad and I said, 'Tell me everything you know about marriage.'

And we sat in this room, and two hours later, I had most of the score of 'Company' written.

I mean, in the sense that she told me everything.

She was describing, you know, the obvious things, the difficulties and the combination of loneliness and non-loneliness and all that.

And, you know, so that was a distillation of her distillation of her experience.

-♪ It's not so hard to be married ♪ -♪ I've done it three or four times ♪ -She was on her second marriage. That was very important.

She had a way of contrasting, you know, two different guys, two different tones, two different everythings.

-He said, 'Mary Rodgers, tell me what it's like to be in a relationship.

Then she told me everything about being married, and then I understood it.'

I'm sorry. What? [ Laughs ] -He was really a genius.

My husband, who was a supreme musician, said that, 'This is going to set a precedent in musical history.

The format has never been done before.

It is going to make history.'

I said, 'It is?'

-The joy of working on Sondheim is that he is intricately psychological, and the joy of him writing lyrics and music is that he is in control of the two worlds together and the one can speak to the other or they can be doing two totally different things.

'Sorry-Grateful' is an ambivalent song.

If you read the lyrics, you'd be like, 'Well, I'm not sure quite what they're thinking about marriage, and I'm no better off at the end of this song than I am at the beginning as to whether marriage is a good thing or a bad thing.'

But if I listen to the melody, I hear love and yearning and desire.

-♪ You're always sorry ♪ ♪ You're always grateful ♪ ♪ You're always wondering what might have been ♪ I think it's a very funny song.

I think it's a very funny song because you're trying to explain what marriage is and what it's like being in a relationship that you're married and you're actually, you know, together.

So, what is marriage?

Well, it's this, see, but it's really not.

But it's kind of -- Well, it's like this, too, but it's really not -- when you think about it, it's not.

And but -- Okay, here's what it is.

I don't know.

-'Company' is a landmark show.

It's so different to anything that has come before.

It sort of invents the idea of the concept musical.

-The form of those plays, the idea that there's two people and a third person, two people and a third person, suddenly, you know, the light bulb started to glow a little bit.

And we realized that what the show should be about is about the third person.

-The vignettes that George Furth wrote were him observing his married friends so it would be him as the observer with a married couple.

And then they put those vignettes together, and those different observers became Bobby.

♪♪ -We invented the character of Bobby, the outsider in five different marriages.

It's his birthday, which is seemingly a surprise party, but it's mysterious.

It's surreal.

His friends are there, but they're not there.

They're fragments of his consciousness.

And he has a kind of combination breakdown and epiphany.

[ Singers vocalizing 'Bobby' ] -Well, he is a passive character.

Everything happens around him.

But that is the structure of the show, which makes it interesting, because he is everybody's best friend, but, yet, nobody in the play really knows him.

-Dean Jones wanted to do a lot more with that part.

He wanted to really act it.

And Hal did not want him to act it.

He wanted him to be like a kind of cipher.

-He doesn't drive any scene.

He hardly has anything to say.

There's hardly a speech for Bobby.

It's quite hard to work out who he is.

Endlessly, people have come up with theories as to who Bobby is or what his 'problem' is or why he isn't married or is he gay, or blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

-♪ Bobby, come on over for dinner ♪ ♪ We'll be so glad to see you ♪ ♪ Bobby, come on over for dinner ♪ -I feel that what Sondheim and George Furth were after was a kind of portrait of tribes and how tribes are suspicious or feel that the single person is dangerous.

-Jonathan Butterell, our choreographer, made all of the dance routines about people being hungry and wanting to snatch.

And so throughout the dance routines, you will see people not just reaching out to Bobby and doing this, but they'll be doing that and wanting to grab a little bit and going... and then smiling and dancing.

So you had this feeling of him being attacked by their love, attacked by their friendship.

-And because you're not part of that social order, you're then claimed by different people in different ways.

It's not that you are one person.

You become aspects of whatever their projections are.

-If you work on a Sondheim, he writes for actors.

So it's really crafted for the actors and how they are portraying their characters.

-Sondheim's songs are the primary text, as opposed to the written text.

And so as a primary text, the actor and the director have to find the character in that.

♪♪ -♪ Whaddaya like? ♪ ♪ You like coming home to a kiss? ♪ ♪ Somebody with a smile at the door? ♪ ♪ Whaddaya like? ♪ ♪ You like indescribable bliss? ♪ ♪ Then whaddaya wanna get married for? ♪ -I think Sondheim offers the actor speeches set to music.

I think he offers the actor scenes set to music.

-♪ Where are you going? ♪ -♪ Barcelona ♪ -♪ Oh ♪ -♪ Don't get up ♪ -♪ Do you have to? ♪ -♪ Yes, I have to ♪ -♪ Oh ♪ -♪ Don't get up ♪ ♪ Now you're angry ♪ -♪ No, I'm not ♪ -♪ Yes, you are ♪ -♪ No, I'm not, put your things down ♪ -♪ See, you're angry ♪ -♪ No, I'm not ♪ -♪ Yes, you are ♪ -♪ No, I'm not, put your wings down and stay ♪ -♪ I'm leaving ♪ -♪ Why? ♪ -♪ To go to -- ♪ -♪ Stay ♪ -♪ I have to... ♪ -To me, the kind of incredible thing about 'Company' and the incredible thing about Steve's work and his ability to spot a song is to find a moment so specific that it's actually universal.

-♪ You're just a very special girl, June ♪ -♪ April ♪ -♪ April ♪ -The incredible punch line at the end of 'Barcelona,' when he's begging her to stay, he's begging her to stay, and the flight attendant turns around and says, 'Okay, I'll stay.'

And Bobby goes... ♪ 'Oh, God' ♪ And the laugh that gets.

-♪ Okay ♪ -♪ What? ♪ -♪ I'll stay ♪ -♪ But... ♪ ♪ Oh, God ♪ [ Laughter ] [ Applause ] -Did we know that was a shared experience before 'Barcelona' existed or did 'Barcelona' illuminate that for us of sometimes when we pine for something, we freak the...out when we get it?

That was something I had never put a name to until I heard that song.

-Okay now everybody!

-I thought that John Doyle's revival starring Raúl Esparza as Bobby was brilliant, because what John Doyle understood was that Bobby was the conductor but couldn't play anything himself.

♪♪ -It was much more sort of naturalistic and that the real trouble was in himself, and so he played that physically with kind of stopping and starting and a boldness and then a kind of recessiveness.

-♪ Year after year ♪ ♪ Older and older ♪ ♪ Side by side ♪ -It was fascinating to watch him, because he really did pull out of his performance something that I had never really seen before in the role, which was the kind of ambivalence about being.

It was much more existential.

-He's not engaged. He's not in the orchestra.

He's above it.

And that is what 'Company' is about.

It's about this guy who's got all these wonderful friends, and they all love him, but, yet, he is aloof.

He's remote.

There's something about him that does not allow him to connect to everybody else around him.

All of the characters had instruments except for Bobby, until the very end, and he plays it because he realizes, 'I have to join the band.'

-It's the humanist impulse in Sondheim's music and lyrics that gives the actor the character.

♪♪ In that music, there's great anxiety.

There's great irony. There's great tenderness.

There's great humanism.

-♪ Someone to hurt you ♪ ♪ Too deep ♪ -'Company' didn't need fixing.

It was brilliant and was a big success in the '70s, when it was first done.

But I thought really carefully about how doing it now might feel dated, set in the '70s, with a 35-year-old man.

What does that say to an audience today?

-The play was written in 1970, and it really made sense for that character to be a man in 1970.

People were much more concerned with people who weren't married.

Now a 35-year-old unmarried man wouldn't be a source of drama or worry for anybody these days.

It would be considered normal.

-[ Vocalizing ] ♪ You could drive a person crazy ♪ ♪ You could drive a person mad ♪ ♪ Do-do-do-do-do ♪ -♪ First, you make a person feel all hazy ♪ ♪ So a person could be had ♪ -One of the things that Marianne is trying to do with switching gender is to talk about the social structure of singleness.

-♪ While you make them feel a fool ♪ -Marianne stepping forward with the gender switch, as it were, is a very bold move, because it's a kind of condemnation of convention.

Bobbie poses a threat to the social order.

-♪ Sarah ♪ -♪ Yes? ♪ -♪ Bobbie ♪ -♪ What? ♪ -♪ I worry ♪ -♪ Why? ♪ -♪ She's all alone ♪ -♪ Mm ♪ -♪ There's no one ♪ -♪ Where? ♪ -♪ In her life ♪ -♪ Oh ♪ -♪ Bobbie ought to have a fella ♪ -The theme and idea of being a woman and not necessarily wanting to get married and feeling ambivalent about relationships -- that's all very familiar contemporary reality.

-♪ Poor baby ♪ ♪ All alone ♪ ♪ Nothing much to do except to check her phone ♪ -I was intrigued, and it seemed like a -- Just hearing about it seemed like a gimmick, but I didn't realize how -- all the different dimensions it would bring, particularly as executed by Marianne Elliott, how it would actually influence the work not just for this production, but sort of retroactively for the piece as a whole.

-♪ Maybe I should call her just to -- ♪ -♪ Don't go there ♪ -It's a very New York thing.

This is like one of the few places where women have an ambivalence towards relationships, because it's one of the few places where, as a woman, you don't necessarily have to have a relationship to survive.

You can have a career.

And that's really what the book 'Sex and the City' is about.

It's about that particular kind of woman who has a lot of ambivalence about relationships.

-♪ Okay ♪ -♪ What? ♪ -♪ I'll stay! ♪ ♪ But...♪ [ Laughter ] ♪ Oh, God ♪ [ Cheers and applause ] -With Bobbie, a woman, is saying what Bobby, a man, said, it's more poignant.

It just -- It's more loaded.

You know, 'Why aren't you married?'

'Because I had things to do.'

It's sort of liberating to hear a woman say it.

Not 'sort of.' It is liberating.

I have things to do. I wanted to finish my education.

I wanted to get my career started.

-It's not so unusual for a woman to be, like, a people-pleasing 'What person do you need me to be right now?

I will be that person.'

What's Bobbie's purpose in your relationship?

What character does she need to play for you guys?

-How about sweet-and-sour shrimp?

-How about sweet-and-sour Ugh!

-Okay, now what character is she for this married couple?

And that felt very familiar.

-Well, still, it takes two to make a happy divorce, and God knows it's working.

I mean, I think you two are great... -I see what she's thinking, but I see, as a woman, she sort of censors herself and doesn't say it and doesn't call people on their lies or their rudeness or -- But you -- You know, whereas the original Bobby seems sort of Midwestern in his affability and slightly cluelessness, whereas what Katrina does -- she's clocking everything but she -- You know, you see all the subtext, but as a woman, she doesn't speak it.

-She's kind of an invisible character in a certain way.

She's a screen on which the couples project their anxiety about coupling.

-If you marry, your life has a-a point to it.

You know, a bottom.

I mean, I have everything except freedom.

[ Laughter ] -I think once Marianne had decided that Bobby should be a woman, all sorts of other things were up for grabs.

There are couples where the man's lines from 1970 are now spoken by the woman and vice versa.

-I'm playing David, who was originally Jenny, and she's Jenny, who was originally David.

-So the lines have swapped. -So the lines have swapped.

-There's something really badass about just being a powerful woman in the relationship and being able to say, 'I got the control in this.'

-The part I play is probably written for, like, a kind of ditzy, dithering stereotype of a woman, you know, and it's fun to play this kind of softer man, as well -- as a softer man.

[ Both laugh ] -You can play with those things in a classic, and it's fine and it still makes sense.

It still has the same heart, the same intensity.

It's just as funny, just as revealing.

-This is where we are in the world now.

We weren't there in the '70s.

-I have to tell you, back up to her dance.

♪♪ -'Tick-Tock' is a rarity in a Sondheim musical in that it's a dance number.

You know, there are no lyrics.

It's there in the original production from 1970.

-I'm not kidding.

When they put that together, it had all different music, had a different mood, it had a different costume.

-It was Michael Bennett's choreography, and he was on the fence about doing this show, because he was just up and coming.

-None of us was a dancer, except for Donna McKechnie.

She was really a dancer.

-I was the lure for Michael Bennett.

-[ Laughs ] We moved in that show.

And Michael Bennett, I mean, he was such a visual person, the way we moved, the way we the danced, the way we went up the steps.

♪♪ -I don't think that Sondheim got dance.

It doesn't feature in his shows much.

So I think it was easily cuttable in the years that followed.

What's interesting is, when Marianne puts it back in, she doesn't put it in as a dance number.

She puts it in as a dramatic number.

-I didn't even know there was such a thing called 'Tick-Tock' in the original.

So, Joel and I had been to see Sondheim, he had given his approval, and we were walking down the street coming away from his house, and Joel said, 'You do know that, in the original, they had a dance ballet with Donna McKechnie.'

And I was like, 'Oh, yes, I vaguely do remember that.

What was it called?' ''Tick-Tock.'' I went, 'What? It's called 'Tick-Tock'?' [ Gasps ] And I remember just dancing in the street, going, 'Oh, that's amazing!'

-I mean, Bobbie turning 35 when Bobbie is a woman is very different because of Bobbie's biological clock.

And because of this moment, if you are going to have a child or children, you better get moving.

While Bobby's dilemma has always seemed a tiny bit existential, for this Bobbie, it's not.

Like, you really feel the literal -- and you hear the literal clock ticking, and it just puts enormous momentum and pressure under it.

What's done with Bobbie and the airline steward -- you know, so brilliant when you see he's footloose and fancy-free and going off to work and going to the gym, and she's just burdened with the child and the house and the husband and just she's become an indentured servant.

♪♪ -Liam, the choreographer, was very involved in 'Tick-Tock' and spoke a lot about that, you know, the kind of repetitive movement of people caught in a kind of a loop and of Bobbie -- of it sort of being a sort of nightmarish scenario of imagining herself in all different scenarios, of all those options of the way your life could go, and hallucinating about how that will be.

-I think what placed this production so much in the now was Bobbie's sort of clear-eyed fears about what would happen to her as a person if she became a wife and a mother and how her life would be taken away from her and she would live her life in service of her husband and her child or children, which is not -- You know, usually, Bobbies don't get far -- that far down the road of thinking of that problematic or worrying aspect of marriage.

-The clock's ticking, and there's something about that, the kind of the pace that that requires and the surprise of what she's going to meet next and the thing that we pursued quite a lot of, that she goes down through the rabbit hole and then she's on this journey and she doesn't know what's going to happen next.

-Playing with sizes and shapes, the way the rooms get small and the rooms get big, and she falls through a crack in the ceiling and everything is very crowded and the 35 is looming large.

You really have a sense of this is happening in Bobbie's mind and this is Bobbie's sort of distorted perception of things as she's trying to grapple with the truth.

-It's hard to imagine a male Bobby now.

It's hard to imagine Jamie being Amy now.

But these things take months of thinking about and working on and going back to and progressing.

-Jamie was the last switch, yeah.

And I think she had a hard time with it at first because the idea of this feminist production of having a female Bobbie and removing one of the greatest female characters in the show was a struggle for her.

-♪ Pardon me, is everybody here? ♪ ♪ Because if everybody's here ♪ ♪ I want to thank you all for coming to the wedding ♪ ♪ I'd appreciate you going even more ♪ ♪ I mean, you must have lots of better things to do ♪ ♪ And not a word of it to Paul ♪ ♪ Remember Paul? ♪ ♪ You know, the man I'm going to marry ♪ ♪ But I'm not, because I wouldn't ruin anyone ♪ ♪ As wonderful as he is ♪ ♪ Thank you all for the gifts and the flowers ♪ ♪ Thank you all, now it's back to the showers ♪ -Sondheim always thought about how the songs were going to be performed as much as what the songs were saying and doing.

So something like 'Getting Married Today' comes at you hell for leather.

It's incredibly fast.

He's arranged the vowels and the consonants in such a way that you can sing them quickly without having to move your mouth around and move your tongue around.

-It's like, I mean, an actor's dream come true.

I mean, you're given most juicy and challenging song ever written in in musical theater, and you get to do it every night.

I mean, it's absolutely thrilling.

-♪ Pardon me, is everybody there? ♪ ♪ Because if everybody's there ♪ ♪ I want to thank you all for coming to the wedding ♪ ♪ I'd appreciate your going even more ♪ ♪ I mean, you must have lots of better things to do ♪ ♪ And not a word of it to Paul ♪ ♪ Remember Paul? ♪ ♪ You know, the man I'm going to marry ♪ ♪ But I'm not, because I wouldn't ruin anyone ♪ ♪ As wonderful as he is ♪ ♪ But I thank you all for the gifts and the flowers ♪ ♪ Thank you all, now it's back to the showers ♪ ♪ Don't tell Paul, but I'm not getting married today ♪ -They wanted to make sure that it absolutely captured the idea of why it had been changed to Jamie, that this added anxiety in this scene that is really about anxiety surrounding marriage.

-♪ Listen, everybody, I'm afraid you didn't hear ♪ ♪ Or do you want to see a crazy person fall apart in front of you? ♪ ♪ It isn't only Paul who may be ruining his life ♪ ♪ You know, we'll both of us be losing our identities ♪ ♪ I telephoned my shrink ♪ ♪ And he said maybe I should come and see him Monday ♪ ♪ Monday, I'll be floating in the Hudson with the other garbage ♪ ♪ I'm not well, so I'm not getting married ♪ ♪ You've been swell, but I'm not getting married ♪ ♪ Clear the hall, 'cause I'm not getting married ♪ ♪ Thank you all, but I'm not getting married ♪ ♪ And don't tell Paul, but I'm not getting married today ♪ -There is an added anxiety now of, 'Do we have to align ourselves with such hetero-normalcy?

You know, is that something that we need to force ourselves into just because it's a right for us now?'

-Let's go. We're late.

-Just because we can doesn't mean we should.

-It is one of my favorite lines, and it is loaded when you think about, you know, the fight for gay marriage, for equality.

And so it's very poignant.

-And what's incredible about that scene in particular is that, aside from that line, virtually none of the text has been changed since 1970.

-♪ Today is for... ♪ -It's very classical in that sense, because Sondheim and George Furth provide such a strong base of text that tells such beautiful and interesting stories, and a director can come along to these works, because the text is so strong and not so specific on how it has to be set and can put their influence on it, and it becomes a completely new piece.

-♪ One more thing ♪ -♪ I am not getting married ♪ -Amen! -♪ Softly said ♪ -♪ But I'm not getting married ♪ -♪ Amen! ♪ With this ring ♪ -♪ Still, I'm not getting married ♪ -Amen! -♪ I thee wed ♪ -♪ I'm not getting married ♪ -♪ Let us pray that we are getting married ♪ -♪ Today ♪ [ Cheers and applause ] -It's a very adventuresome production and it's sort of one of the first that I've seen where I'm thinking along with the piece.

Marianne makes a lot of room in the production for us to think about assumptions that we would make based on gender.

And I think it's the unwinding of those assumptions and social norms, in terms of money, power, dominion, that Marianne gets at very subtly, not with an ax in the back of my head, but just kind of turning it, you know, turning it with the casting, turning it with perspective that other women would have with that cast.

-When you think about texts like Shakespeare, say, or Ibsen or O'Neill, they have given us -- all of us -- such incredible texture and such incredible complexity in their work that the work itself is the blueprint, but it's not necessarily that you build the same house every time.

A Sondheim musical like this is very robust and can take many different kinds of interpretations and still be true to what is at the heart of 'Company.'

-I would say it's the perfect show to revive at any time, if you are referencing the time that it's in, because of how ingenious this writing is.

-People call this a revival.

And I don't -- I think Chris Harper even said it, as well, our producer.

I don't think it's -- It is a revival, but it's really not.

It's a new theatrical piece, even though it's been around for 50 years.

It really is new, with the same score and the same book.

-One of the great things about theater is that it's going to be different tomorrow.

And the difference really depends on the performer.

I mean, Bobby can be played by anybody now, right?

I mean, that's what this production opens up.

Who has the right to play Bobby? Anyone who can play Bobby.

-Bobby has always been a little problematic, and everybody's always tried to solve Bobby.

-It's not like I'm avoiding marriage.

It's avoiding me, if anything. I'm ready.

-Actually, you're not.

-I have no block, no problems.

You know, I am ready to be married.

-Then why aren't you?

-I've always had things to accomplish.

That's the main reason.

-You know, what is it about this person that they're out of step with all their married friends?

What's different about them?

-First, I had to finish school.

Then I had to get started to get my career going.

-You wait.

You're gonna see a lot of changes in my life.

-You know what a show is about without having to state it.

Certainly, it's true of all first-rate works of literature anyway, that there's something going on that is not stated on the nose.

But you say, 'I see this story is about that' or 'What's behind this is that.'

The minute you expose it to light, it flattens it out.

-I think it's a beautiful piece of work where the disclosure is in the music and in the performance.

-I think, clearly, Steve could not have written 'Company' without having been in Bobby's position himself at some point in his life.

-I think he's in everything that he did and I think some more explicitly than others.

But this felt very explicit to me.

I mean, it's sort of like trying to separate Tennessee Williams from Blanche DuBois.

I'm not saying that he's Blanche DuBois, but his understanding of Blanche DuBois is quite phenomenal.

-So, for 'Company', they were thinking about living a contemporary life in New York City in the '70s and being, in Steve's case, a gay man surrounded by a lot of heterosexual friends and everyone saying, 'How come you're not married?

When are you going to get married?'

That's the way life was back then.

-My feeling about 'Company' as a show has a lot to do with being a gay man and how social convention doesn't really respect singleness.

And I think that Sondheim was writing out of that particular kind of knowledge and maybe sometimes frustration.

-♪ Somebody hold me too close ♪ ♪ Somebody hurt me too deep ♪ ♪ Somebody sit in my chair ♪ ♪ And ruin my sleep ♪ ♪ And make me aware ♪ ♪ Of being alive ♪ ♪ Being alive ♪ -You know that the song 'Being Alive' was not the song we had in Boston.

Has anyone told you that?

-The final number went through three incarnations.

There was a song, 'Multitude of Amys.'

That didn't work because of plot changes that happened during rehearsal.

Then Sondheim wrote 'Happily Ever After.'

-And the Boston critic Elliot Norton, who was a big deal at the time, hated that song.

-'Happily Ever After' was, you know, some of the same lyrics as 'Being Alive.'

And that's the one Stephen rewrote, because it just was so bitter.

-In the last week of the tryout in Boston, he wrote 'Being Alive,' which is the end of the show and has been ever since.

-Rhythmic looseness, which you're doing right here.

That's the explosion. That's the flower bursting.

That's where you can take rhythmic liberties.

And just what you're doing is fine.

-In 'Being Alive,' it's just a really clear journey from the beginning to the middle to the end of somebody working through their thoughts and starting off protesting, 'The last thing I want is to be with someone, it's ridiculous, because they do this and they do this and they do this, it's a nightmare, you have to compromise everything' to 'This is actually what it means to be alive.'

-Her need to protect herself is getting in the way of her being who she is.

The pain of change is not as painful as the pain of staying the same.

Starting to take off the armor.

-When Bobbie sings 'Being Alive,' it's always a breakthrough moment to me and it's always, you know, a moment of getting past a fear.

-♪ Someone to make you come through ♪ ♪ Who'll always be there ♪ ♪ As frightened as you ♪ ♪ Of being alive ♪ ♪ Being alive ♪ -And Sondheim does it brilliantly when he changes a word, the shape of a word, and, suddenly, the song means something else.

Instead of 'Someone to hold you too close,' he sings, 'Somebody hold me too close.'

-♪ Somebody hurt me too deep ♪ ♪ Somebody sit in my chair ♪ ♪ And ruin my sleep ♪ ♪ And make me aware ♪ ♪ Of being alive ♪ ♪ Being alive ♪ -To care about something more than yourself in order to understand what it is to be alive.

And that, for me -- that song just touched it.

Bobby suddenly understood that he needs to be scraped against life.

And without having life push against you, you don't know what shape you will take.

-♪ Someone to hold you too close ♪ ♪ Someone to hurt you too deep ♪ -Sondheim's material needs no filigreeing.

It needs nothing extra.

It is simple and incredibly complicated at the same time.

And so you basically have to get out of the way of the material and let it speak for itself.

-Sondheim is a great melodist.

The sheer beauty of the tune of 'Being Alive' is one thing that makes it kind of indelible.

Once you hear it, you will always remember it.

-♪ Make me alive ♪ ♪ Make me alive ♪ ♪ Make me confused ♪ -Because the song is specific, yet not specific, this can hopefully touch people in different ways but make them think about their own lives or their -- what they want or their own vulnerability or their own barriers or -- People can connect with it very specifically to their own -- with their own experiences.

-We're listening to Sondheim with a different ear.

We're listening for complexity, where we assume we understand it or get it.

He always doubles back and says, 'Actually, it's deeper than that and let me go -- let me take you further.'

-I can't help but think of 'Being Alive' without weeping, knowing what I know, which is that Steve was never in a really committed relationship until much later in life.

So to write 'Somebody hold me too close, somebody bruise me too deep' is both exactly what Bobby needs to express -- Bobby with a 'Y' and Bobbie with an 'I' -- and comes from somewhere inside Stephen Sondheim.

And that's incredibly profound.

Writing is, moment to moment, trying to find the truth, and if you do, it can survive any level of interpretation, because there's something in it that's true for what it is, and it's very hard to knock the truth out of it once it's in there.

-Sondheim's legacy is so difficult to encapsulate because it's so enormous.

What he did was he brought thinking to the American musical.

-I think 'Being Alive' is a song that is going to touch people in profound, profound ways, because we have not been alive for 18 months.

-I remember leaving the theater.

I remember the setup, which was the Harry/Sarah living-room set.

And we pushed the box upstage just to make sure everything was fine.

And on October 1, 2021, I walked back into the Jacobs for the first time, and it was exactly the same.

Nothing had changed.

March 11, 2020, to October 1, 2021.

Just bizarre.

-The day we shut down, I was at the gym and I got a call from my manager.

He was like, 'You should go home.

Don't go to the theater.'

And it just seemed impossible.

It still seems impossible that it's been over 600 days since that happened.

-The idea of being shut down for even two weeks was absurd, you know?

And I remember when they made the announcement for four weeks, it just seemed like the longest time.

And I still find posts on my phone that say things like, 'Oh, quarantine so hard so far.'

You know?

And you're just like, 'Oh, my God.

If we only knew what was coming.'

-And, you know, when we first shut down, they said, 'We'll be back in a month.'

And then, you know, all of a sudden, it was July, and then it was September and then it was May.

-It was like a death. It was.

It was like a death of our connections, our -- you know, it is the -- the being in a room with a group of people and telling a story is so elemental to being human and to just, like, strip that in the moment of its happening was, like -- It felt like a death to me, and I think to a lot of us.

And so it really feels like coming back to life.

-When we first started rehearsal, we all look like deers caught in headlights.

We were shell-shocked that first day, that first week.

Everybody was shell-shocked, Everybody went through something, some sort of traumatic realization.

And now we're back in rehearsal when we were about to open.

-♪ Sharing little winks together ♪ ♪ Drinks together ♪ ♪ Kinks together ♪ ♪ That make marriage a joy ♪ -♪ It's not wedded bliss and what happens in bed that... ♪ -I suppose I knew that it was going to be quite a thing coming back.

Some of us haven't worked since then, and some of the people involved hadn't even been in a room with anyone else other than in their own house the whole time.

So it was going to be emotional.

I was aware there was going to be some sort of post-traumatic stress.

-Blow out your candles and make a wish.

-Yeah!

-[ Gasps ] -Don't tell me your wish, Bobbie, or it won't come true.

-You have to close your eyes, then blow them all out.

-Make sure you make... -And we've all collectively been through trauma, through love, marriage, death, loss.

We're going to approach the material differently.

-We were all holding the show and the characters and the story somewhere in our brains like, 'There's this flicker of hope.'

So we were all kind of preserving it in our own way so that when we started again, everything felt so much closer.

-I think, you know, that the humility that came out of the pandemic lets us know that, hey, things can change at any minute, so what are we going to do with the moments that we have?

I think it's humbling and I think it helps all of us to be appreciative of the opportunity to really behold each other.

-♪ Everything's different ♪ ♪ Nothing's changed ♪ ♪ Only maybe slightly rearranged ♪ -Everyone's performance is deeper and richer and more complex because of what we've been through.

-The play is inevitably going to be received differently because we really are different people and we have a different perspective because we've all experienced something.

And the audience is going to receive it differently, as well.

-The theater only exists when people come together and have that shared experience of seeing a great musical, a great play with 1,500 other people, and feeling that entire house in the theater move with the play.

-♪ Secrets we keep from guess who ♪ ♪ Who is so safe and who is so sound? ♪ ♪ You never need an analyst with Bobbie around ♪ -Audiences are coming together to view the truth of what they see onstage, and they bring their truth, and that's the alchemy in the moment, on the night, is that.

-The audience response is your final collaboration, and until you get your musical in front of an audience, it's not a complete work.

[ Indistinct conversations ] -I'm extremely looking forward to when the cast has done their final of, let's say, three or four encore bows and they come offstage and 'Company' is open on Broadway.

-Okay. Hello.

Welcome to 'Company' and welcome back to Broadway!

Whoo!

[ Indistinct conversations ] [ Cheers and applause ] -It is just truly overwhelming to be back here at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre after 631 days.

[ Cheers and applause ] We do need to thank certain people -- the crew, the cast, the musicians, the most amazing stage-management team, the creative team, everybody who's worked on the show, George Furth and his madcap, wild imagination... [ Cheers and applause ] ...and, of course, to our most generous collaborator of all, Stephen Sondheim.

[ Cheers and applause ] [ Cheers and applause continue ] -♪ Bobbie ♪ -♪ Bobbie ♪ -♪ Bobbie, baby ♪ -♪ Bobbie, honey ♪ -♪ Boo-boo ♪ -♪ Bobbie, darling ♪ -♪ Bobbie, we've been trying to call ♪ -♪ Phone rings, door chimes, in comes company ♪ ♪ No strings, good times, just chums, company ♪ ♪ Good and crazy people, your friends ♪ ♪ These good and crazy people, your married friends ♪ ♪ And that's what it's all about, isn't it? ♪ ♪ That's what it's really about, isn't it? ♪ ♪ That's what it's really about ♪ ♪ Really about ♪ -♪ You I love and you I love ♪ ♪ And you and you I love ♪ ♪ And you I love ♪ ♪ And you I love and you and you I love ♪♪ -♪ It's not wedded bliss and what happens in bed that allows you to get through the worst ♪ ♪ It's 'I do' and 'you don't' ♪ ♪ And 'nobody said that' ♪ ♪ And 'who brought the subject up first?' ♪ ♪ It's the little things ♪ ♪ The little things, the little things ♪♪ -♪ And another hundred people just got off of the train ♪ ♪ And another hundred people just got off of the train ♪ ♪ And another hundred people just got off of the train ♪ ♪ Another hundred people just got off of the tra-a-a-in ♪♪ -♪ Here's to the girls who just watch ♪ ♪ Aren't they the best? ♪ ♪ When they get depressed, it's a bottle of Scotch ♪ ♪ Plus, a little jest ♪ ♪♪ ♪ Another chance to disapprove ♪ ♪ Another brilliant zinger ♪ ♪ Another reason not to move ♪ ♪ Another vodka stinger ♪ ♪ I'lllll ♪ ♪ Drink to that ♪♪ -♪ But alone ♪ ♪ Is alone ♪ ♪ Not alive ♪ ♪♪ -He was an inspiration in his life, the way that he led his life, the way he did his work, in the way that he was all about collaboration, and he always honored his collaborators.

-Everyone who has been close to Steve has been sharing their Steve dreams.

I had a doozy of a Steve dream about three weeks after.

We were at a reading.

And I'm sitting there.

It's like a reading in a regular room.

And I'm sitting here and Steve is here and his husband, Jeff, is here.

And Jeff says to me, 'Can you drive Steve home after the reading?'

And I go, 'Sure.'

And in my dream, there is this motorcycle.

I've never driven a motorcycle in my life.

Steve climbs onto my back. I am terrified.

Going in lurches and starts.

And, also, I don't recognize any of these New York City streets.

I have no idea how to get back to his townhouse.

And I have Steve laughing and grumbling and bitching in my ear, 'I'm fine, Lin. Keep going.

I'm fine. Keep going.'

And I'm laughing my ass off trying to get him home on this motorcycle.

And I wake up weeping, because the only thing I remember from the dream when I get up is, 'I'm fine.

Keep going.'

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