Preview of Company in Concert - Drew Rowsome - 416 Scene - MyGayToronto
Preview of Company in Concert 6 March 2018
"I'm playing Peter," says David Lopez of his role in Company in Concert. "He's kind of a minor guy. If it were an episode of Family Guy, Peter would be Quagmire. He seems to be interminably horny. He feels chained in by having a wife and kids and he's constantly letting Bobby know how jealous he is of his swinging bachelor lifestyle. He's constantly prying him for details about what his goings on are. It's a fun part. It's a very great character to play. It's very funny."
Being a Stephen Sondheim musical, there is more complexity to Peter than being a sexual horndog. "Company's born of the '70s when I believe the sexual revolution was reaching its denouement," says Lopez, "And they talk about swinging and it might be one of the first musicals to address, and to potentially celebrate, gender fluidity. My character makes a pass, a flat-out pass, at Bobby. He basically propositions him. It's not a unique show for Sondheim in being ahead of its time."
And this Bobby is worth hitting on. "Let me tell you, Geoffrey Tyler came prepared," says Lopez "Not only is he so beautiful to look at but when he lays into 'Being Alive,' you'll be truly impressed." All of the talent assembled for Company in Concert is impressive. "I really can't say enough about this group. I did Assassins with Marissa McIntyre, I worked with Kevin Aichele before, I have so much respect for the members of this company. I'm really chucked to get to do this with them. And it's a show I enjoy on top of that. It's just great."
Lopez has also previously worked with Companymates Ryan Kelly (Assassins, Into the Woods, Gash!, The Normal Heart, Dancing Queen, The Trouble with Henry), AJ Bridel (A Christmas Carol, Assassins, Kinky Boots) and Toronto Music Concerts' driving force Christopher Wilson, which helps because, "The show is about a group of people who want the best for someone they love. And they don't want to be isolated. The show is, I feel, really about the human need to nurture and to include. And to care. The cast's camaraderie was there from the word go, that's the truth. When we were learning the music, in Chris's living room of all places, we'd take the time if one of us squawked we'd all laugh, but now that we're on our feet and staging the show, we have such a finite amount of time, it's all business. We're all there to make sure the product is presentable."
The cast is echoing Wilson's drive. "I really admire his commitment to wanting to bring concert musical theatre back to Toronto," says Lopez, "Like the way it was with Encore about 20 years ago, back when I was in theatre school. You'd hear about these staged concerts and we'd see the staged concerts at Carnegie Hall and we'd all be so enamoured with how they were presented. It was such a cool, and I guess cost effective, way to do a big show and to fill seats."
Concert versions have been very good for Sondheim, particularly the star-studded ones at Lincoln Centre. "They did Company, Sweeney Todd, Follies . . . . " says Lopez. "They didn't do Into the Woods or anything, but more of his bigger, deeper, more esoteric pieces in concert and I think it made them accessible to audiences. It's great for this show because while it's dated, it speaks to very current themes like isolation. Back in the '70s the whole swinging culture seemed to be in the forefront but it was just like the whole need to feel like there's something missing if you're not coupled. Bobby, while he does have a very fulfilled life, still feels like he's missing something."
Lopez is also a fan of Company's score and its audience, and talent, pleasing qualities. "When I knew I was going to do Hello Again and Wild Party, I was like okay, this is going to take up a lot of my brain," he says. "Company is, as far as the music is concerned, not one of Sondheim's most challenging shows. There is a lot of counterpoint in the opening number but the whole show is more acting than singing so I didn't approach it with the same trepidation. With Kinky Boots I approached it with a lot of trepidation because it's all so high, but with Company I'm just looking forward to singing this music because I really believe that it's held up over the test of time. The creative team are very passionate about this style of music so we're doing our best to respect and honour it as best we can."
The money raised from Company in Concert ticket sales goes to the Canadian Safe School Network. "I'm always happy to do my part," says Lopez. "It's nice that we're doing this for something beyond ourselves. And it's great that we get to expand beyond the one night we did of Assassins and raise even more money. People were really impressed that we were able to put it together so quickly and have such an entertaining production. And we're raising the bar with Company. The company that Christopher has assembled, just essentially by acting nicely, is a testament to how much people care about this material. And any time we get to flex our muscles, we're going to be better."