Stephen Sondheim on a Female Lead in Company: ‘What Is There to Lose?’ | Playbill

Industry News Stephen Sondheim on a Female Lead in Company: ‘What Is There to Lose?’ The legendary composer opens up about Marianne Elliott's decision to reverse the genders in an upcoming revival.
Stephen Sondheim

In Tony-winning director Marianne Elliott’s upcoming production of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s Company, “Bobby” is now “Bobbie.” Color Sondheim intrigued.

Rosalie Craig Pamela Raith Photography

The prolific composer gave his blessing to the Elliot Harper Productions revival in London, which will feature Rosalie Craig in the spotlight as the 35-year-old single New Yorker. He attended a workshop that tested the concept, which featured alterations such as “Have I Got a Guy for You,” instead of “Have I Got a Girl for You,” and flight attendant April being renamed Andy.


In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Sondheim expressed enthusiasm about the casting shakeup, saying, “If you’ve got somebody as distinguished and inventive and good as Marianne Elliott, and she says, ‘I would love to do Company with a female central character,’ what is there to lose? It can only make the play either interesting or, if you dislike it…dislikable.... So I’m always open.”

The composer asserts that the willingness to revisit an established show through a new lens is crucial to the art form: “The thing about the theatre as opposed to movies and television is it’s malleable…. Shows are performed and, most importantly, directed, by different people, and that keeps them alive.”

Though no dates for the London production have been announced, the staging is part of what Sondheim calls a “banner season.” In New York alone, an Off-Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd continues to play, as a Broadway revival of Sunday in the Park with George, an Off-Broadway revival of Pacific Overtures, and an Encores! Off-Center presentation of Assassins recently concluded limited engagements.

Meanwhile, the West Coast also celebrates the composer. The Hollywood Bowl will offer a one-night-only presentation of the musical retrospective Sondheim on Sondheim July 23. The cast includes Jonathan Groff, Vanessa Williams, Ruthie Ann Miles, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Carmen Cusack.
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