Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Company’ with the New York Philharmonic Airs on Great Performances Friday, November 8, 2013 at 9 p.m. as Part of the PBS Arts Fall Festival
An all-star cast in a staged concert production conducted by Paul Gemignani
Great Performances presents the New York Philharmonic’s concert staging of Stephen Sondheim’s award-winning musical Company with an all-star cast including (in alphabetical order) Craig Bierko (as Peter), Stephen Colbert (as Harry), Jon Cryer (as David), Katie Finneran (as Amy), Neil Patrick Harris (as Robert), Christina Hendricks (as April), Adam Lazar (as Paul), Patti LuPone (as Joanne), Jill Paice (as Susan), Martha Plimpton (as Sarah), Anika Noni Rose (as Marta), Jennifer Laura Thompson (as Jenny), Jim Walton (as Larry), and Chryssie Whitehead (as Kathy).
Captured from the stage of Avery Fisher Hall at New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the musical will air Friday, November 8 at 9 p.m. on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances, as part of the PBS Arts Fall Festival. (Check local listings.)
Sondheim specialist Paul Gemignani conducts Jonathan Tunick’s original orchestrations arranged for a 35-piece orchestra. Lonny Price — who directed SONDHEIM! The Birthday Concert on Great Performances, directs; Josh Rhodes is the choreographer. Ellen M. Krass produced this concert production for broadcast.
Set in a swinging New York City evocative of the time of the show’s 1970 Broadway debut, Company follows perennial bachelor Robert (Harris) on the occasion of his 35th birthday as his five married couple friends gather to celebrate and offer varying degrees of relationship advice. Their interactions are presented in a series of vignettes, primarily through Robert’s eyes. The show’s many Sondheim standards include “Company,” “Side by Side by Side,” “The Ladies Who Lunch,” “Another Hundred People,” “Barcelona” and “Being Alive.” In assessing the performance, Stephen Holden in The New York Times praised “the suave, dynamically subtle contribution of the mighty Philharmonic” as well as “the witty musical staging.”
With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by George Furth, Company first opened on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre on April 26, 1970, produced and directed by Harold Prince. The show ran for 705 performances and received the 1971 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Lyrics, Best Set Design, and Best Direction of a Musical, among 14 nominations. It has returned in various revivals, most recently in 2006 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Broadway, with Raúl Esparza as Robert, in a production that was also broadcast on Great Performances.
Paul Gemignani has been the music director of more than 40 Broadway and West End shows, including Follies, Pacific Overtures, Candide, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Evita, Dreamgirls, Merrily We Roll Along, Into the Woods, On the Twentieth Century, Sunday in the Park with George, Jerome Robbins’s Broadway, Crazy for You, Passion, High Society, and Kiss Me, Kate. In 2004 he was the music director for Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins, The Frogs, and the Japan National Theatre Company’s production of Pacific Overtures.
In 2006 he received a Prime Time Emmy Award for Best Musical Direction for a Great Performances presentation of South Pacific; Mr. Gemignani served as the music director of the New York Philharmonic’s concert performance of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies in September 1985 (which was the basis of a Great Performances broadcast); and in March 2010 he conducted the Philharmonic’s production of SONDHEIM! The Birthday Concert, which aired on Great Performances.
Company marks Lonny Price’s return to the New York Philharmonic, where he had directed and co-produced SONDHEIM! The Birthday Concert. His previous Philharmonic collaborations include Candide, starring Paul Groves, Kristin Chenoweth, and Patti LuPone in May 2004 (broadcast on Great Performances, Emmy nomination); he directed Sweeney Todd with the San Francisco Symphony (also broadcast on PBS; Emmy Award) and helmed the previous telecast of Company in 2006, all of which were also produced by Ellen M. Krass. In March 2014 Lonny Price will direct and co-produce the New York Philharmonic’s staged production of Sweeney Todd starring Bryn Terfel and conducted by Alan Gilbert. In his early career as an actor, Price originated the role of Charley Kringas in the Prince/Sondheim show Merrily We Roll Along on Broadway.
Over the course of its four decades, Great Performances has provided a national stage where popular artists not only reveal the surprising dimensions of their creative gifts but often surpass expectations. Great Performances has also offered artists the opportunity to celebrate and pay homage to the influential figures in their lives and careers, as well as be the first to spotlight emerging artists with their feature-length television debut.
Great Performances is a production of THIRTEEN for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. Throughout its 40 year history on public television, Great Performances has provided viewers across the country with an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural programming. Over the course of its four decades, the series has been the home to the greatest artists in the areas of drama, dance, musical theater, classical and popular music, providing many with their very first television exposure.
Stephen Sondheim’s Company with the New York Philharmonic is directed for stage and television by Lonny Price, and produced for the stage by Price and Matt Cowart. For television, Ellen M. Krass is producer, with Stewart F. Lane, Bonnie Comley, Eric Duke, Evelyn McGee and Malin Yhr as executive producers, and Marty Granoff and Ted Snowdon as co-executive producers. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is series producer and David Horn is executive producer.
Major funding for the Great Performances telecast is provided by the Irene Diamond Fund, The Starr Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Anne Ray Charitable Trust, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, The Agnes Varis Trust, public television viewers and PBS.
Visit Great Performances Online at www.pbs.org/gperf for additional information about this and other programs.
In 2013, WNET is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of THIRTEEN, New York’s flagship public media provider. As the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Need to Know, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah! andCyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJ Today and MetroFocus, the multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. WNET is also a leader in connecting with viewers on emerging platforms, including the THIRTEEN Explore iPad App where users can stream PBS content for free.
About the PBS Arts Fall Festival
As part of its commitment to increase every American’s access to — and participation in — the arts, PBS kicks off the multiplatform PBS Arts Fall Festival on Friday, October 18, 2013, hosted by award-winning television, film and stage star Anna Deavere Smith. Anchored by broadcasts every Friday night and a range of related online content, the Fall Festival features artists and performances from across the country, comprised of full-length performances, behind-the-scenes interviews, and artist and performer profiles.
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