"Company" Blu-ray Review
June 11, 2008 by Zach Demeter
I know what you’re asking: “Broadway on Blu-ray?” It’s true! The revival of Stephan Sondheim’s comedy musical Company has found its way onto Blu-ray (and DVD) with a gorgeous 1080p transfer and a host of audio options for you to enjoy the Sondheim classic in. The winner of the 2007 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, Company made waves in 2006 with its many performances in which not only did the cast sing and act their hearts out, but also played all of the instruments used in the musical, something director John Doyle did with the Sweeney Todd in 2006 as well.
Company is about Bobby, a bachelor who has trouble committing to a serious relationship, who is constantly prodded by his (married) friends to tie the knot with someone. Bobby feels the pressure more than once and through the course of his thirty-fifth birthday he begins to realize what he needs to commit in life. Presented in no chronological order and loaded with the usual wit that Sondheim songs possess, Company is an engaging and fascinating musical that focuses on the problems that adults face with the relationships in their lives.
I’ll get this out of the way right now: I’ve never been to the theater and never once had the desire to see a play. The first musical I actually willingly watched (i.e., not something that happened to be on TCM that my parents were watching) was the Burton/Depp headed Sweeney Todd and I’d never had a real interest in checking out any other musicals or broadway plays, even if Sondheim was the lyricist. The opportunity to review Company came about rather abruptly and while I hesitated at first, I’m very happy that I ended up reviewing this title—it’s really quite wonderful.
Obviously I’m no theater critic so I can only comment on the play from a film reviewer perspective, but I guess it should say something that there really wasn’t all that much that felt different in this play that couldn’t have easily ported over to film. In that regard I mean that aside from the actors running around in the darkened areas of the stage and the set occasionally changing hands, there was little to take you out of this world. I can see the appeal of the theater now and to see this performed live must have been quite the exhilarating experience.
Perhaps because it’d only been a few months since seeing Sweeney Todd I felt more easily drawn in by the music in this play. Considering both were Sondheim productions it should come as no surprise that both have similar composition styles and pacing arrangements and on more than one occasion I found myself recognizing a certain performance or musical note…only these weren’t lyrics about human meat pies and slicing someone’s throat, so there’s that minor difference, but still.
The characters presented in the play were all remarkable and each one of them had their uniqueness about them, adding that much more depth to the production. Bobby, played by Raúl Esparza, remains the center throughout the piece, but he doesn’t sing nearly as much as those around him. In particular I found the performances by Heather Laws (Amy) and Angel Desai (Marta) to be particularly powerful, both providing some of the craziest amounts of dialogue and Laws absolutely belting out a stunning performance of “Getting Married Today.” I never realized how exciting it could be to watch a broadway play and I really would have loved to seen this live…I was absolutely blown away by the performances.
Throughout the two hour production I was engaged with the characters and laughing along with the audience and really quite getting into the songs. It was such an engaging production through and through and despite any “ew, broadway” prejudice I may have had before watching Company, it’s all completely dissipated at this point. Broadway, film, music, whatever—if it’s enjoyable, then it’s worth watching; and if Sondheim was involved, then that means it’s really worth watching. Highly Recommended.
Company arrives on DVD and Blu-ray by way of Image Entertainment. The Blu-ray edition comes in a standard blue casing without any inserts or slipcovers. The Blu-ray itself has a simple menu system with pop-up options for the two extras on the disc and a whole host of sound options. The 1080p AVC transfer looks absolutely stunning and boasts an enormous amount of detail to feast your eyes on. There is a camera stuttering error around chapter twenty, but it’s minor and never happens again in the production. The audio comes in a trio of options and include English DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 Surround (48kHz/24-bit), English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (640kbps) and English PCM 2.0 Stereo (192kbps). They all sound wonderful, but the obvious winner is the DTS-HD MA track which boasts the most clarity and surround use (which is really only the audience laughter a lot of the time) and contains deep, rich sound for all of the musical instruments that pound and float their way around the stage. Absolutely magnificent.
For the extras we only have a quick pair of SD featurettes. The first is "An Audience with Stephan Sondheim" (38:59), which is, as you’d expect, an interview with Sondheim about his host of works. Interviews with Raúl Esparza (15:29) and John Doyle (9:21) are also included in their own separate files.
The extras on the disc aren’t too impressive, but the production itself is. Great video transfer and superb audio are paired with a genuinely delightful play. Company is a winner and this Blu-ray release comes Recommended.
Company is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.