Sondheim’s ‘Company’ opens at County College of Morris

BY TAYAH GRACE SWEDLUND
Staff Writer

The lights dim, and the hum of chatter from the audience ceases. All eyes in the cozy Dragonetti Auditorium begin to focus. The overture begins and, as props shift and actors take their places, energy fills the room.

In two acts, students at County College of Morris put forth a powerful portrayal of George Furth and Stephen Sondheim’s musical, “Company.”

“It’s quite an accomplishment,” said Director Marielaine Mammon, who also mentioned the complexity of the musical.

“Company,” originally produced and directed for Broadway by Harold Prince, contains an incredible collection of music and lyrics by Sondheim, which is part of the reason Mammon was so drawn to it.

“Stephen Sondheim is a true composer.” said Mammon, who also serves as chairperson of the department of music, dance and performing arts.

The musical is centered on a single man, named Bobby, who is unable to commit to a steady relationship or marriage, along with five married couples that were his best friends, and his three girlfriends.

The cast, made up of many diverse members of the CCM family, worked on the production for two months. The cast included mostly musical theater majors. The lead role of Bobby was played by Scott Baird, a CCM alumnus, and the role of Joanne was played by Maureen Stivala, director of Academic Services at CCM.

Baird has participated in two previous musicals at CCM. “Company” was his third opportunity with a leading role.

“I thought it went real well. I was really happy with my performance as well with everyone else’s in the show,” Baird said.

Rehearsals for the musical took place every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday night. “The reason I do Sunday nights is because there aren’t a lot of conflicts. We can put everything together,” Mammon said. “And it’s quiet on campus.”

After working through a difficult winter, the cast of “Company” fused together to create a cohesive performance.

The audience laughed along with the humorous monologues and banter among cast members. More importantly, the auditorium went silent during times of struggle for the characters. When Amy, played by Kristina Plate, announced that she did not love her husband, the audience seemed captivated and entertained.

Another aspect of the musical was the knowledgeable staff. The lighting, set and sound design enhanced the performance in more ways than one.

Rachel Polak, student sound technician, talked about her involvement with the production.

“Mostly, [being a student sound technician] means really listening to everything and making sure it all sounds even,” Polak said. “Making sure there’s no annoying frequencies hurting your ears and knowing the right times to add volume and when not to. Being a sound technician requires ears that are always listening.”

Polak has enjoyed past CCM musicals, but this was her first time working with the staff.

“It really is an enjoyable experience and I’d love to do this again,” Polak said.

Hannah Schroeder, who played the role of April, has been a part of previous CCM musicals.

She described the cast as a big family, brought together by this challenging production.

“The music in this show is really difficult to learn,” Schroeder said. “We all had to work together and really rely on each other to accomplish all of this… We all really bonded over the show, and I think that’s part of what makes the show so great. When we are all on stage, we are all really connected.”

— Jasmine Davis, assistant entertainment editor, contributed to this article.

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