Sondheim’s Company brought back to the stage with a little help from Sibelius

Photo: © Donald Cooper/Photostage

Tomorrow night marks the final performance of a revival of George Furth and Stephen Sondheim’s musical, Company, at the Crucible in Sheffield. The run, which started at the end of November last year, has been critically-acclaimed, drawing a five-star review from the Daily Telegraph. Dominic Cavendish called it “unmissable” and said:

Jonathan Munby’s world-class revival reminds us why Sondheim is hailed as a genius. With an experimental, non-linear book by George Furth, Company is both of its time – capturing an age of greater innocence and sexual exploration – and ahead of the game. As long as we must weigh the pleasures and agonies of solitary freedom over the comforts and corrosive effects of cohabitation, this ingenious, soul-searching piece will sing to us in the most haunting and wittily acute way.

I spoke to Simon Hale, who worked as the orchestrator on this latest revival. “This is a new production and so the director and theatre wanted new orchestrations to give it a fresher feel whilst also keeping it in New York in 1970, where it is set,” he told me. “The 1995 Donmar production was a more chamber version musically than the original but I wanted to give it a band sound at times, sometimes make it James Brown and also reflect the influence of Philip Glass/Steve Reich of the period in some of the arrangements.”

Simon, naturally, produced the scores and parts for the show using Sibelius 7, and is really pleased with how everything turned out. “We’ve had fantastic reviews, so fingers crossed that it might have another incarnation after this,” he said.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed for director Jonathan Munby and the rest of his team that Company may yet be transferred to the West End and allow a wider audience to experience the show in this wonderful production.


  1. Wheat Williams

    Here’s a footnote about the music in Company that you might enjoy if you are old enough, from New York Times consumer technology columnist David Pogue. And did you know that Pogue got his start as a pit orchestra conductor on Broadway, around the same time he became a consultant and manual-writer to a certain other, older notation program?

  2. Phil Shaw

    I haven’t heard these “new arrangements”, but they sound like a very bad idea.
    The Tunnick arrangements are part of the show. What’s next, Simon Hale orchestrations for The Marriage of Figaro? With James Brown and Philip Glass invluences?

  3. Peter Roos

    Interesting – a wonderful musical. Wonder what they changed. Is James Brown / Steve Reich that much more fresher than the original arrangements? If they are trying to appeal to a younger public (who may not be familiar with the music scene and the tech of the ’70s), wouldn’t it make more sense to bring in elements of say Lady Gaga or Kate Perry? ;-) Would be nice to see this though, not just in the West End, but Broadway and elsewhere as well. Maybe next to the original so people have some choice.

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