2 is a couple, 3 is 'Company' in latest Lyric Opera production

A new school year means a new season of operas and musicals from ASU’s Lyric Opera including Stephen Sondheim’s “Company," which opens Friday, Sept. 25.

The Lyric Opera has undergone some changes since the end of last school year including hiring a new artistic director, Brian DeMaris. This will be the first ASU Lyric Opera production with him at the helm.

"Company" is a Tony-winning musical comedy based on music from Stephen Sondheim and a book by George Firth. According to DeMaris, this musical's form was unique for the time.

"'Company' is referred to as the original concept musical," DeMaris said. "The idea is that is there is not a linear story line. It all takes place in a series of flashbacks. It's about Bobby, who is 35 years old and questioning whether or not he should be married. All of his friends are married and they tell him, or at least demonstrate to him, all the ins-and-outs of marriage. He ends up more and more conflicted as it goes.”

Sondheim is best known for “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” and “Into the Woods."  However, “Company” never avoids the tension and drama of a relationship and how main character Robert, a life-long third wheel, interacts with his married friends. Thus, the performers really had to understand their companions and be willing to let their guard down, according to choreographer Molly Lajoie.

“Within the first week of rehearsal, the director, Toby Yatso, had the couples go on real dates with each other as well as Bobby went on dates with all three girlfriends,” Lajoie said. “I thought this was a wonderful way to get the cast members to become more comfortable with each other and aid in their character development and relationships as married couples.”

For being a comedy, “Company” proves to have many heavy themes, especially in the back half, as Bobby’s thought process becomes jumbled and confused. Senior musical theater major Megan Moylan, who plays Amy, was especially affected by the experience.

“'Company' addresses the concept of loving a person not only despite their flaws, but for their flaws,” Moylan said. “It touches on what it means to genuinely be ready for an honest relationship versus just saying you are ready. It shows how relationships in New York's alone-in-a-crowd culture are so different than in any other culture. It explains what it means to love ‘somebody, not just some body.’”

Although it is hardly a month into the semester, the Lyric Opera has been busy at work rehearsing six times a week for many hours.

“Despite the fact that this was one of Lyric Opera Theatre's shortest rehearsal processes, I can confidently say that it has been one of our most successful,” Moylan said.

ASU’s Lyric Opera production of “Company” is directed by Toby Yatso and stars an array of ASU music majors and non-music majors including Alex Kunz as Robert, Analise Rosario as Marta, Emilie Doering as Joanne and Megan Moylan as Amy.

“Company” opens Sept. 25 and will run through Oct. 4. For more information click here.

Related links:

ASU MainStage drops the boys to the curb, adding seven women playwrights for the 2015-2016 theater season

'Room' proves tough story to watch, but wins big at Toronto International Film Festival

Reach the reporter at tanner.stechnij@asu.edu or follow @tannerstechnij on Twitter.

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