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Stephen Sondheim’s Company Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: November 13, 2012
  • List Price: $29.98

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

With all due respect to many other worthy names, Stephen Sondheim is generally recognized as the Broadway composer of the past half-century. A trademark of the Sondheim oeuvre is a combination of deft lyrics and unforgettable tunes, and we get in this combination in spades with Company.  This show debuted in 1970 and, in the way that we mark time, must now be considered a venerable musical. Company went on to win six Tony awards and has been revived numerous times, most recently in 2006, a remarkable show in which the cast did double duty as singers and instrumentalists.

Company takes on the tricky subject of human relationships, specifically marriage, and the mostly married cast has the daunting task of trying to get one of their long-time single members, Bobby (Neil Patrick Harris) to join their ranks. However, the examples given of how well marriage actually works are far from encouraging to a thirty-something bachelor. This is a semi-staged performance with members of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra led by Broadway vet Paul Gemignani. The 2011 performance benefits from director/producer Lonny Price’s decisions to go with some very well known performers/personalities like Patti Lupone, Jon Cryer, Stephen Colbert, and Martha Plimpton.

There is something exciting about live performances and short runs (this show played only four times). Fortunately for us, Company was recorded for large-scale theatrical distribution, hence the provenance of this BD.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

This is nearly as good as good as HD gets. The videographers cover the stage perfectly and create the illusion of a real staged event. Close-ups are fabulous (of course you do get to see the head mikes but so what). The props, mostly chairs, couches and beds suggest a merry-go-round of situations and are smartly deployed from scene to scene.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The illusion of a live performance is effectively recreated by the surround channel ambience. There is some audience noise but there is also a terrific sensation of space. We get excellent capture of voices while the balance between the stage and orchestra is nearly perfect.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0/5]

None here but with a performance this good, who cares.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

I have always considered Company as one of Sondheim’s most clever works. The intimate, insider’s view of marriage is both penetrating and more than a touch bitter.  With a literally bare stage, the souls of the characters are also literally and figuratively bared. The cast is tops and Sondheim’s muse is well communicated.Much credit has to go to director/producer Lonny Price who has chosen his performers quite well. Neil Patrick Harris has nailed the persona of the conflicted and no longer young bachelor with commitment issues. I was more than pleasantly surprised by actor Colbert who comes across as a real stage animal. However, the high water moment of the show comes from Broadway legend Patty Lupone who simply nails “Here’s to the ladies who lunch.” While there may be concern that a show this old will not time travel well, the dialogue has undergone a clever but discrete updating, making this production as relevant now as it was more than 40 years ago. In sum, we get a fabulous rendering of one of the last millennium’s musical masterpieces, and one that will come get repeated viewings in my home theater. For those who want a different BD take on Company, there is a well done 2007 revival starring Raul Esparza in which the actors double as musicians.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Stephen Sondheim’s Company on Blu-ray at CD Universe

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Purchase Stephen Sondheim’s Company on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Stephen Sondheim's Company

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

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