Let’s Be Real: We’re All Suddenly Obsessed With Stephen Sondheim’s Company Because We’re Sad
Stephen Sondheim isn’t exactly known for writing happy musicals, but the saddest among them (and I’m including my personal favorite, Sunday in the Park with George, in this) is definitely Company. Following the life of Bobby (or Bobbie, in the female-led revival), the musical focuses on the idea of love and happiness on the eve of Bobby’s 35th birthday.
While all of Bobby’s friends are married, he is not. He’s constantly brushing off their concerns about his singledom and continues to pretend like everything is fine, but throughout the duration of the show, we learn that Bobby had been in love, had even wanted to get married at one point, but no one takes him seriously enough to do it.
Now though, 2020 is being faced with a resurgence of Company, and … to be fair, it’s been happening for the last few years. The most recent case (aside from the Broadway revival) is Marriage Story. Noah Baumbach’s heartbreaking film about marriage and how it, sometimes, doesn’t work out heavily takes notes from the musical—quite literally. There are two songs from the show in it.
First, Scarlett Johansson’s character Nicole sings “You Can Drive a Person Crazy” with her mother and sister, which is very much in line with the idea of the women denying Bobby in the show, since Nicole is singing it about Charlie (Adam Driver), whom she’s in the middle of divorcing.
Then, a few scenes later, when Charlie is still in New York and hanging out with his theater company, they’re all singing in a bar, and Charlie decides that a great way of working through his situation is to … sing the saddest musical theatre song of all time. (I will not tell you how often I cry to “Being Alive,” but please know that it is up there.)
So … why exactly is Company having a resurgence then? Well, my kitties, we’re all sad.
The beauty of “Being Alive” and “Marry Me a Little” is that they show the absolutely devastating feeling of being alone and not knowing what to do. It’s universal. Whether it’s watching Marriage Story and seeing the use of Company in that regards or watching the actual musical, it has something for everyone in it—well … everyone who is sad. You get my drift.
The song “Marry Me A Little” is Bobby’s attempt at that idea of happiness that all his friends have. It’s the idea that he can be married but, essentially, on his own terms.
And maybe that’s why we’re all suddenly so in love with Company again. We’re all looking for that happiness, but so many of us want it on our own terms. We want love and companionship, but many of us want it to fit in our own lives and not consider how the other would be affected—so, really, the perfect musical to accompany Marriage Story.
I think part of the recent attraction to the musical is that … so many of us are sad and lonely and can watch Company and just sob. It’s a weird cathartic experience, especially when it gets to “Being Alive” and Bobby says, “Alone is alone not alive.”
The question is when will I stop crying about Company? Will it happen once I’m married, or will I still cry thinking of that lonely feeling? Lol I’ll never be free.
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