On the Aisle -- 11/6

On the Aisle -- 11/6 FURTH THING FIRST: Every theatrical season oughta begin with an opening blast of Sondheim. "Company," the 1970 Tony winner he wrote with George Furth, filled that bill spectacularly, having ripened in a quarter century into The Ultimate Manhattan Musical.

FURTH THING FIRST: Every theatrical season oughta begin with an opening blast of Sondheim. "Company," the 1970 Tony winner he wrote with George Furth, filled that bill spectacularly, having ripened in a quarter century into The Ultimate Manhattan Musical.

Okay, technically, "Moon Over Buffalo" took first-of-the-season honors--when "Company" held the critics off a week to give Boyd Gaines's vocal infection more time to heal--but that little fact didn't prevent its opening-night party at the Hotel Macklowe from going on (however prematurely) as originally scheduled. From the moment those attending cheered the exuberant curtain-raiser that introduced this "Company's" company (easily, the smartest, sharpest, brightest Broadway assemblage in several seasons), it looked and felt like a direct hit.

Another Sondheim-Furth team effort--their nonmusical: a comic whodunit with a group-therapy backdrop called "The Doctor Is Out"--should reach Broadway in the spring. Jack O'Brien, who staged its world premiere at his Old Globe in San Diego, expects to put the piece back into rehearsal--hopefully with most of its original cast (including Terrence Mann, John Rubinstein, Josh Mostel)--in January.

Once the "Doctor" is on, O'Brien will start steering toward Broadway "Time and Again," the musical version of Jack Finney's novel about generations of residents at The Dakota; Howard McGillin (now, Mack Sennett in London's "Mack and Mabel") and Rebecca Luker (the "Show Boat" Magnolia) did previous workshops and look likely for the leads.

While Sondheim has reverted to musical form (for a Kennedy Center-commissioned show slated for next fall, scripted by John Weidman around the eccentric turn-of-the-century Mizner brothers), Furth is finishing two more plays: One, "Off the Record," got a Favored Nations staging, starring Sally ("She Loves Me") Mayes. The other--a series of seven sketches in which, more often than not, two men and a woman triangulate in assorted ports of call (NYC, L.A., Paris, eventually even heaven)--is called "Sex Sex Sex Sex Sex Sex Sex."