Phone rings, door chimes, in comes…the co-op board.
Stephen Sondheim’s Company—specifically, the 1970 documentary Original Cast Album: Company—gets a loving sendup courtesy of IFC’s Documentary Now!. The satirical anthology series’ latest episode sends up the recording studio exploration with “Original Cast Album: Co-Op.”
Aficionados of the original film from D.A. Pennebaker will note several details replicated in the exclusive look above, from Dean Jones’ red turtleneck (now worn by Alex Brightman) and Donna McKechnie’s prominent mascara to Elaine Stritch’s side glances to the camera (now performed by Paula Pell) and the casually dismissive huffing and puffing of Stephen Sondheim (mastered by writer John Mulaney).
The majority of the new, original songs—penned by Mulaney and Eli Bolin with orchestrator Mike Pettry—pay homage to Sondheim’s intricate melodies and lyrics (particularly those heard in Company), though other theatrical allusions work their way into the score. The opening title number (heard above), for instance, features a doo-wop tone reminiscent of Little Shop of Horrors’ “Skid Row.”
The mocumentary also lifts a plot point directly from the story behind another Sondheim musical—Merrily We Roll Along—as the cast learns the fate of their flop show just before heading into the recording studio (that show is explored in the documentary Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened; fingers crossed for Documentary Now!’s take in the near future).
Documentary Now!’s “Original Cast Album: Co-Op” airs February 27 on IFC. In addition to Mulaney, Pell, and Brightman, the cast includes Hamilton Tony winner Renée Elise Goldsberry, Richard Kind, Taran Killam, and James Urbaniak.
The series, co-created by Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Seth Meyers, and Rhys Thomas, premiered in 2015 with a riff on another documentary with Broadway musical ties: Grey Gardens.