I’m not one of those people who “loves” New York, mostly because the fast pace makes me so tense. The minute I’m through the Holland Tunnel, I feel as if I’m driving through a live version of Death Race 2000. And the parking? Oy. I like the idea of New York more than I do the reality. But oh God, do I love musical theater, and that love has forced me to make periodic treks to the anxiety capital of the world.
“Company” is the first Broadway show I ever saw, and it’s a great one. When I went back home and raved about it to people, they smiled condescendingly and said, “Well, it’s the first one you’ve ever seen, what do you have to compare it to?” It was infuriating. I was only 15, but goddamnit, I knew a work of art when I saw one. And it was about the baffling complexities of modern marriage, not about dancing leprechauns or singing nuns.
I was the one who got to smile condescendingly when the show was nominated for 12 Tonys and walked off with six of them. It was a turning point in the history of the American musical, and all of a sudden, people were paying much closer attention to Stephen Sondheim.
The theater geeks and queens I hung out with in high school also loved the show, and of course we’d break out into the songs everywhere we went. (We all loved Elaine Stritch’s scenery-chewing rendition of “The Ladies Who Lunch.”)
When I auditioned for a cabaret series at Penn’s Annenberg School, I performed “Another Hundred People.” (“How old did you say you were?” the director asked me. I got the gig.)
The day of my own wedding, I was singing “I’m Not Getting Married” to myself. (It should have been a clue.)
No matter how many shows I’ve seen since then, it remains my favorite. That’s why I’d kill to see this production next week. But it’s in New York, I’d never get a ticket even if I could afford it, and it would make me tense figuring out how to get there.
But I’ll still get a kick out of the thought that Stephen Colbert, another Gleek, just like me — is performing in “Company.” Perfect.