CHRISTOPHER FITZGERALD & NIKKI RENÉE DANIELS, CO-STARS OF “COMPANY”

Encore: May 11, 2022

Broadway is officially back and one of the hottest tickets in town is “Company,” the musical comedy first written by the late Stephen Sondheim, over 50 years ago. The show pays homage to the late composer and lyricist in a special Playbill featuring Sondheim on the cover. Tonight, MetroFocus honors the musical theater legend with two of the stars from “Company,” Christopher Fitzgerald and Nikki Renée Daniels, who join us with the tale of this exciting and hilarious Broadway revival.

For more information on “Company,” click here.

TRANSCRIPT

> GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

IT HAS BEEN MORE THAN 50 YEARS SINCE 'COMPANY' OPENED ON BROADWAY.

NOW THE TONY AWARD WINNING BEST MUSICAL IS BACK ON THE GREAT WHITE WAY.

IT IS STILL BRILLIANT.

LET'S TAKE A LOOK.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪

WE ARE DELIGHTED TO HAVE TWO OF THE STARS OF 'COMPANY' JOINING US NOW.

BROADWAY VETERANS CHRISTOPHER FITZGERALD AND NIKKI RENE DANIELS.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.

LOVELY TO BE HERE.

AS I SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION, THE SHOW WAS BRILLIANT.

THE TWO OF YOU ARE MARVELLOUS.

YOU PLAY AN INTERESTING COUPLE.

WE WILL GET TO SOME OF THE DETAILS IN A MOMENT.

I FEEL LIKE I HAVE TO START BY ASKING YOU ABOUT THE SPIRIT OF STEPHEN SONDHEIM.

HE WAS AT YOUR OPENING PRODUCTION IN NOVEMBER.

IT WAS, SADLY, LITERALLY LESS THAN TWO WEEKS BEFORE HE SUDDENLY PASSED AWAY.

MY QUESTION TO YOU IS, AS ACTORS, WHAT DID IT MEAN TO YOU TO HAVE THE CREATOR OF YOUR SHOW -- NOT JUST ANY CREATOR, STEPHEN SONDHEIM, THE CREATOR, IN THE AUDIENCE FOR THAT PERFORMANCE?

NIKKI, START WITH YOU, IF I COULD.

I MEAN, YOU KNOW, HE IS THE SHAKESPEARE OF MUSICAL THEATER.

I WATCHED 'WEST SIDE STORY' LAST NIGHT.

WATCHING IT, I COULDN'T BELIEVE THAT THIS PERSON WHO WROTE THESE LYRICS 60 YEARS AGO WAS THERE FOR OUR REHEARAL PROCESS, WAS AN INTEGRAL PART OF US TWEAKING LITTLE TWEAKS IN THE SCRIPT AND LYRICS.

TO HAVE HIM IN THE REHEARAL ROOM AND IN THE AUDIENCE WHEN WE DID THE SHOW IS AN AMAZING THING.

IT'S AN HONOR TO PERFORM FOR HIM WHILE HE WAS HERE WITH US.

CHRIS, HOW ABOUT YOU?

BEFORE THE PANDEMIC, WE HAD BEGUN PREVIEWS.

HE HAD COME SEVERAL TIMES DURING THAT PROCESS TO SOME REHEARSALS.

WE HAD A RECEPTION AFTER ONE OF THE PREVIEWED.

NIKKI, I DON'T REMEMBER IF YOU WERE THERE.

YOU PROBABLY WERE.

WE HAD DRINKS.

YEAH, YEAH.

HE PARKED HIMSELF AT A SEAT.

ALMOST ONE AT A TIME, WE WENT OVER AND HAD TIME JUST TO SPEND WITH HIM ONE ON ONE.

IT WAS REALLY -- HE ALWAYS LOVES TO TALK ABOUT HIS COLLABORATORS.

GEORGE FIRTH WAS IN HIS MIND AS HE WAS SPEAKING.

TALKING ABOUT HIS BRILLIANCE AND WHAT HE BROUGHT TO THE SHOW ITSELF.

THEN COMING OUT OF THE PANDEMIC, THE IDEA THAT HE WAS STILL ABLE TO COME AND BE A PART OF THE EXPERIENCE AGAIN.

HE WASN'T ABLE TO COME TO REHEARSALS.

BUT HAVING HIM THERE AT THAT FIRST PREVIEW, IT WAS -- IT'S SO INTERESTING TO TALK ABOUT IN HINDSIGHT BECAUSE TWO WEEKS LATER HE PASSED AWAY.

I CAN SAY THAT THE ENERGY AND THE ELECTRICITY FROM THE CAST, FROM THE AUDIENCE, IT WAS SUCH A MOMENTOUS MOMENT ANYWAY, BUT TO HAVE HIM PRESENT JUST MADE IT KIND OF ALMOST LIKE THEATER LORE.

THE IDEA HE WAS THERE TWO WEEKS OR SO THAT HE PASSED.

I JUST REMEMBER, WE WERE SO NERVOUS.

I WAS GOING TO ASK YOU ABOUT THAT.

I SAW A VIDEO -- SOMEBODY TAPED IT OF HIM COMING INTO THE THEATER AND EVERYBODY IS STILL.

THEY REALIZED WHO HE WAS AND THEY STAND UP AND A STANDING OVATION.

THE CAST COMES OUT AND SAYS, THIS IS DEDICATED TO YOU.

I WAS GOING TO ASK YOU ABOUT THAT.

YOU ARE VETERANS.

THE TWO OF YOU HAVE DONE A LOT OF STUFF, A LOT OF HIGH-QUALITY WORK.

DO YOU GET NERVOUS?

DO YOU LOOK OVER AND SAY, IS HE LAUGHING?

WHAT'S HE DOING OVER THERE?

THAT'S LITERALLY ALL I WAS THINKING ABOUT WAS HIM THAT NIGHT.

I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, NIKKI.

ABSOLUTELY.

JUST THE IDEA THAT HE IS SITTING HERE SIX ROWS BACK WATCHING US.

I CAN'T IMAGINE FOR HIM WHAT IT MUST FEEL LIKE TO HAVE SUCH REVERENCE PLACED UPON YOU.

I MEAN, HE HAD SO MANY WAYS OF DEFLECTING IT WITH JOKES AND WITH STORIES AND ANECDOTES.

BUT IT WAS -- TO SEE HIM AFTER THAT EVENING AT THE PREVIEW, HE CAME BACK INTO THE LOBBY.

WE HUNG OUT WITH HIM THERE.

WHAT A GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

WE ALL SURROUND HIM.

WE'RE ALL, YOU KNOW, STARING AT HIM, WAITING FOR THE NEXT WORDS HE SAYS.

HERE HE IS TRYING TO KIND OF THROW IT OFF.

HE WAS JUST SO GENEROUS.

I JUST -- MY MEMORY IS THAT HE WAS SO HAPPY THAT NIGHT.

WHAT GREAT MEMORY TO HAVE OF HIM.

I HAVE INTERVIEWED HIM IN THE PAST.

HE WAS ALL OF THOSE THINGS YOU SAID.

LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT THE SHOW ITSELF.

I MENTIONED, IT'S MORE THAN 50 YEARS OLD.

WE HAVE NOT SEEN IT BEFORE LAST WEEK.

I HAD SEEN CLIPS OF IT.

WE KNEW THE MUSIC.

BUT I WAS STRUCK BY A COUPLE OF THINGS.

ONE WAS, IT SEEMED TIMELESS.

IT DIDN'T SEEM DATED.

SOMETIMES WHEN YOU SEE A SHOW FROM A HALF A CENTURY AGO, YOU SAY, THIS IS WONDERFUL, BUT I CAN TELL IT WAS WRITTEN HALF A CENTURY AGO.

WHY DO YOU THINK THIS REMAINS SO TIMELY?

NIKKI, YOU FIRST.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

WELL, I THINK ANY WELL-WRITTEN PIECE CAN WITHSTAND THE TEST OF TIME.

I REFERENCED SHAKESPEARE BEFORE.

WE RELATE TO THOSE PLAYS FROM HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO.

I THINK THAT IT'S A WELL-WRITTEN PIECE, NUMBER ONE.

ALSO, NUMBER TWO, WE MADE A FEW TWEAKS TO MAKE IT MORE 2020 WITH A FEMALE BOBBY INSTEAD OF A MALE.

WITH THE CELLPHONES AND THINGS WE DID TO BRING IT INTO TODAY.

WE REALLY DIDN'T CHANGE A HUGE AMOUNT AS FAR AS THE WORDS ON THE PAGE.

I THINK THE WRITING IS JUST SO GOOD THAT WE ARE ABLE TO MAKE IT WORK FOR TODAY.

I SAW THAT YOUR CHARACTER -- THE TWO OF YOU IS A LITTLE TWIST FROM THE FIRST ONE.

NIKKI, YOU ARE OUT THERE WORKING PART OF THE COUPLE.

CHRIS, YOU ARE THE HOME.

YOU HAVE YOUR SHORTS ON AND POLO SHIRT.

YOU DO A FUNNY THING WITH YOUR SHORTS.

I WILL JUST LEAVE IT OUT THERE AT THAT.

CHRIS, LET ME ASK YOU THIS.

I WAS STRUCK BY HOW FUNNY THIS SHOW IS.

I DON'T KNOW WHY -- WHAT I EXPECTED.

BUT I WAS STRUCK BY HOW FUNNY IT IS.

HAVE YOU GOTTEN THAT REACTION FROM PEOPLE?

YES.

I MEAN, AUDIENCES SEEM -- ARE LAUGHING FROM THE MOMENT WE START, ALL THE WAY THROUGH.

TO THE HOME RUNS FROM PATTY LAPONE AT THE END.

YOUR CLEANUP HITTER AT THE END OF THE SHOW KNOCK THE AUDIENCE JUST INTO THE STREET IN A DAZE OF GOODNESS.

IT IS SO FUNNY.

GEORGE FIRTH, I THINK, WAS A BIG PART OF THAT.

JUST SUCH -- THE STORY -- I FEEL LIKE IT'S TIMELESS BECAUSE IT'S ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS, ABOUT FRIENDSHIPS, IT'S ABOUT FINDING, YOU KNOW, YOUR COMMUNITY, FINDING HOW YOU FIT IN THE WORLD, IN THIS CONTEMPORARY WORLD.

SO ALL OF THOSE THEMES ARE JUST SO PRESENT NOW.

I MEAN, THERE ARE THINGS WE TALK ABOUT ALL THE TIME.

WE'RE ALL STILL GOING THROUGH.

MY CHARACTER WAS PLAYED BY A WOMAN.

THERE'S TROPES IN THERE.

SOME OF THE FEMALE CHARACTERS JUST KIND OF -- THE WAY THEY WERE WRITING, WERE KIND OF -- THEY WERE DITSY, STANDARD SUBURBAN TROPE CHARACTER.

I DON'T BLAME THEM FOR WRITING THOSE CHARACTERS AT THAT TIME.

WE HAVE EVOLVED SO MUCH.

IT'S FUN TO FLIP IT ON ITS HEAD AND LOOK AT THAT TIME THROUGH THOSE ANGLES NOW WHERE THE IDEA THAT YOU COULD SEE IT AND KIND OF SAY, I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS WAS WRITTEN AT THAT TIME.

IT ALL SEEMS SO -- IT ALL MAKES SENSE.

I WENT BACK TO LOOK AT THE 1970 PRODUCTION.

I WANTED TO SEE HOW DIFFERENT IT WAS AFTER I SAW YOU ALL PERFORMING.

I WAS STRUCK BY YOUR CHARACTERS.

THERE'S SOME OTHER COUPLES THAT THINGS HAVE BEEN FLIPPED AROUND A BIT, AGAIN, TO MAKE THEM MORE TIMELY AND MEANINGFUL FOR US.

LET ME COME BACK TO SOMETHING YOU MENTIONED WHEN YOU TALKED ABOUT THE AUDIENCE.

WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN IN TERMS OF THE AUDIENCE'S REACTION, GETTING BACK INTO LIVE THEATER AND SEEING THIS?

NIKKI, WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN SEEING?

I WAS PRETTY SURPRISED.

I THOUGHT WITH AN AUDIENCE FULL OF PEOPLE MASKED, ARE THEY GOING TO NOT RESPOND AS MUCH?

ARE THEY GOING TO SCREAM AND CLAP?

IT'S BEEN PRETTY NORMAL AS FAR AS PERFORMING AND GETTING THE REACTION FROM THE AUDIENCE, WHICH HAS BEEN REALLY GREAT.

WE HAVE HAD -- WE HAVE BEEN LUCKY TO HAVE FULL HOUSES LATELY.

THEY SEEM TO REALLY BE ENJOYING IT.

WE HAVE BEEN GETTING POSITIVE FEEDBACK ON SOCIAL MEDIA.

BROADWAY IS BACK AND WE FOUND A WAY TO SURVIVE IN THIS PANDEMIC.

CHRIS, I MENTIONED TO YOU WHEN WE WERE TALKING BEFORE WE STARTED THIS, THE PERFORMANCE THAT WE SAW LAST WEEK, IT WAS A MATINEE, AND AS THE CURTAIN CAME UP, THE CROWD WENT CRAZY.

NOBODY HAD DONE ANYTHING.

THE CROWD JUST WENT CRAZY.

THE SENSE WAS, IT'S BACK.

WE ARE BACK.

YOU ARE ALL BACK.

THERE'S AN IMPLIED -- I BELIEVE THERE'S -- IT FEELS LIKE THERE'S THIS IMPLIED DIALOGUE BETWEEN THOSE OF US WHO ARE PRESENTING THE EVENING OF ENTERTAINMENT AND THOSE WHO ARE WATCHING IT, THAT WE ARE DOING SOMETHING IN SPITE OF.

WE ARE ALL KIND OF -- THERE'S THIS MOMENT ALMOST THAT WHEN THE -- WHEN WE START I FEEL LIKE THERE'S A CELEBRATION OF THE FACT THAT WE ARE ACTUALLY DOING THIS THING TOGETHER.

THAT'S THE THEATER.

THE THEATER IS TOGETHER.

IT'S LIVE.

IT'S NEVER THE SAME ON ANY GIVEN NIGHT.

YOU MAKE THIS CONTRACT WITH EACH OTHER THAT WE'RE GOING TO SIT HERE FOR TWO AND A HALF HOURS, MAYBE LONGER, JUST A TAD LONGER, AND WE'RE ALL GOING TO KIND OF MAKE THIS CONTRACT TOGETHER THAT WE'RE GOING TO HAVE THIS EXPERIENCE TOGETHER.

REALLY, YOU DO -- YOU ARE HAVING AN EXPERIENCE.

THE AUDIENCE IS HAVING AN EXPERIENCE.

AND YOU SHARE IT.

IT HAPPENS.

I WISH WE HAD MORE TIME TO TALK.

THEATER IS WHAT WE LOOK TO WHEN WE NEED MEANING AND HELP.

IT'S 'COMPANY.'

IT'S BRILLIANT.

THANK YOU, NIKKI AND CHRIS, FOR SPENDING TIME WITH US.

YOU BE WELL.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

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