PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Oct. 12-18: Roundabout Enjoys a New Company and The Winslow Boy Wows Audiences

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18 Oct 2013

Daniel Evans
Daniel Evans

It was a week of surprises. But none was perhaps more surprising — or more talked about — than the news that the Roundabout Theatre Company was considering producing a new revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical Company

Nothing particularly thunderous about that news, per se. Sondheim revivals come along at a pretty steady clip in New York — except that in this rendition, the central character of the vacillating, searching single Bobby would be gay.

A little history: Company is the story of a man who juggles various girlfriends but, despite the fact that all his friends are married, can't seem to commit. Over the years since it debuted in 1970, there has been a persistent contingent of Sondheim friends and scholars who have suggested that the reason Bobby can't tie himself to any one woman may be because he's a closeted gay man. Just as consistently, Sondheim and bookwriter George Furth (now deceased) have dismissed the idea out of hand.

Now, however, the composer has had a change of heart. He was brought around to the idea by John Tiffany, the director who's currently a hot property due to his success with Once and The Glass Menagerie. In Tiffany's new view, Bobby is a gay man with multiple boyfriends.

"It’s still a musical about commitment," Sondheim told The New York Times, which broke the story, "but marriage is seen as something very different in 2013 than it was in 1970. We don’t deal with gay marriage as such, but this version lets us explore the issues of commitment in a fresh way."

That won't be the only change. The salty Joanne, created by Elaine Stritch in the original production, would become a man and be played by Alan Cumming in the Roundabout reading. Daniel Evans, a Tony nominee for the 2008 Roundabout revival of Sunday in the Park With George would be Bobby. Other actors involved include Bobby Steggert and Michael Urie.

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Almost as stunning was the announcement this week that a Will Eno play was coming to Broadway. Broadway!

It's hard to explain the work of playwright Eno to someone who hasn't seen it. It's a little like the more-experimental plays of Edward Albee, only less commercial.



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