Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Jeff Thomas

Actors Theatre of Santa Rosa’s production of Company is a tribute to songwriter/lyricist Stephen Sondheim. Company includes such memorable songs as Another Hundred People, and Barcelona. An American composer born in New York City, Sondheim studied with Milton Babbitt and earned his first success with his lyrics for Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story in 1957. Some of his own successful musicals include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), A Little Night Music (1972) and Sweeny Todd (1979).

Actors Theatre’s cast takes you on the entertaining journey of a bachelor (Robert, played by Steven Abbott) celebrating his 35th birthday with all his married friends. Though this musical often emphasizes the lighter side of marriage, divorce and all aspects of man/woman relationships it also does an excellent job of showing the pure poetry of many of Sondheim’s songs and how powerful they can be when dramatized. When Another Hundred People is sung, the audience feels the haunting loneliness that pervades the crowded streets of New York City. When Robert and his stewardess girlfriend perform the duet Barcelona, the audience laughs at the casual way the two new lovers treat their encounter, yet Sondheim’s words in this song and others, and the timing of their delivery echo the fears and isolationism of modern relationships. Words like, “it has everything to do with nothing to do with her,” and “keep a tender distance so we’ll both be free/ that’s the way it ought to be,” delivers the hidden impact of Sondheim the poet.

I recommend Actors Theatre’s production, directed by Sheri Lee Miller and Argo Thompson, to both aficionados of Sondheim and to those discovering his music for the first time. After seeing this production, you’ll understand why the composer has contributed immeasurably to the revival of the musical in America.

For tickets or more information call (707) 523-4185 ext. 1 or visit

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