University Theatre delved into themes of marriage and loneliness in its performance of the musical “Company” opening night on Friday.
“Company,” a musical composed and written by Stephen Sondheim, follows a middle-aged man named Robert, played in the show by senior Dodge City native Cale Morrow. Robert is friends with five committed couples but is not in a committed relationship himself.
University Theatre opened the two-weekend performance of "Company" Friday night and will hold the final performance of the musical Sunday, March 12 at 2:30 p.m.
The play begins on Robert’s 35th birthday with all five couples at his house to celebrate. The cast then breaks out into the song heard much throughout the musical, “Company.” The song consists of the couples each branding Robert with a nickname — Bobby, Bobbo, angel and darling to name a few — and then one of the couples invite him over for dinner, saying it will just be the three of them, the husband, the wife and Robert.
As the play progresses, each couple discusses Robert’s plan to get married and offer to introduce him to various friends. The lyrics to the original “Company” quickly alter into saying it will just be the four of them, not three, over for dinner.
The musical performances do a great job in illustrating the sanctity of marriage using the five couples, each with their own thoughts on marriage. Paul and Amy, played by Schyler Merrills and Francesca Haynes, are shown on their wedding day, with Robert as Paul’s best man.
While Paul is very excited to get married, Amy breaks into a comedic song, “Getting Married Today,” in which she sings and quickly speaks about how she will not be getting married today.
Robert sits down with Amy as she ponders over whether it is worth being tied down to one person for the rest of her life, even telling Paul that she does not love him enough. The breakdown proved to be pre-wedding jitters, as the couple goes on with the wedding happily.
Morrow, reflecting on the play, said he believes that marriage, and questioning marriage, is something even at the age of 22 he has thought about.
“I think it’s a universal theme,” Morrow said. “I think about relationships I had and relationships I’ve seen.”
As the musical neared the end, Robert visits with his current and past girlfriends, wondering why they never got married. However, after talking to three of the exes, he realizes that he was too focused on living a life of fun and parties instead of looking to settle down.
In fact, one of his exes, Kathy, played by Rendi Renee Doran, confessed that she wanted to marry him at one point, but he never asked.
Robert performed the final musical number, “Being Alive,” opening his heart to the idea of having someone to love him. Wanting someone to hold him close, someone to ruin his sleep and someone to know him all too well. Robert in the end finally understands the positive outlook on marriage.
“Find the one who’s your true love and spend the rest of your life with her,” Yinxiang Wang, a sophomore from China in the crowd that night, said in reaction to the discussion of marriage in the play.
The musical closes with Robert’s friends waiting to give him his cake for his birthday, but do not notice Robert hiding in another room. The friends all leave, realizing he wants to be left alone and leave the cake.
When they leave, Robert grabs the cake and blows out the candles alone, ending the show.
The ending is left to the audience’s interpretation, as the entirety of the play may have been within the mind of Robert before realizing he wants to be alone in life. The play has no set timeline for the musical and Robert's friends throw him a 35th birthday celebration three times throughout.
Both the assistant stage manager Martha Keslar and Morrow thought the show went great for opening night.
“It was a great cast, and it was a team,” Morrow said. “It’s called 'Company' for a reason.”
The schedule of performances can be found on University Theatre’s website.