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The biggest changes made to ‘Company’ for the Broadway revival

April 14, 2022 by Diep Tran
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Company

“Everything’s different. Nothing’s changed. Only maybe slightly rearranged.” Stephen Sondheim wrote those lyrics in the musical Company to describe marriage. But they can also describe the new Broadway revival of Company, directed by Tony Award winner Marianne Elliott and starring Tony winners Katrina Lenk and Patti LuPone, which differs significantly from other productions of the classic show. 

How is it different? Let’s just say that Company has been “slightly rearranged” from top to bottom. But that’s nothing new for the hit musical. Company has been changed plenty of times since its premiere on Broadway in 1970 (the most notable being the addition of the Act One closer “Marry Me a Little” in the ’90s). As Sondheim said to The New York Times, “What keeps theatre alive is the chance always to do it differently, with not only fresh casts, but fresh viewpoints.” 

As someone who has seen this revival of Company three times and counting, here are the biggest changes this new version makes from the original Company. Phone rings, door chimes, in come Company spoilers!

Get Company tickets on TodayTix.

Bobbie is now a woman.

The biggest change in Company is the decision to make the main character, Bobby, originally a single man living in New York City and wondering if he should get married, into a single woman named Bobbie.

It was director Elliott’s idea — these days, she said, a 35-year-old single man wouldn’t be pressured to get married. But for a 35-year-old single woman, “​​there’s going to be a lot of pressure on her from her friends to make a wish that she will actually ‘sort her life out’ and settle down and get married and have a family, maybe.” Especially because women have that pesky biological clock, so a woman’s mid-30s are when she has to decide if she will have a family or give that option up, giving Bobbie an additional layer of stress that her male counterpart doesn’t have. 

This choice had Sondheim’s seal of approval and his help. A few years before he died, he said to Rosalie Craig, who played Bobbie in London before the show went to Broadway: “I wish I’d written it for a woman from the start.”

Company is now set in today’s times.

The 2021 revival of Company is set in the 2000s, replacing the ’60s setting that the show was written in. To make it work, prior to his passing in late 2021, Sondheim collaborated with Elliott to update this new Company by changing some lyrics. 

Elliott also combed through bookwriter George Furth’s notes to update Company for modern sensibilities (this “revised” version was even published by Nick Hern Books). 

For example, in “Another Hundred People” (which could also be the name of a brutally honest dating app), the line “I’ll call you in the morning or my service will explain” has been changed to “I’ll message you tomorrow or I’ll call you and explain.” The outdated answering service has been replaced by DMs, just like in real life.

Company

Amy is now Jamie.

An important character in Company is Amy, who sings the tongue-twister “Getting Married Today.” On her wedding day to Paul, Amy gets a gigantic bout of cold feet. In this new version, Amy is a gay man named Jamie, not sure if he should marry his longtime boyfriend Paul.

Sondheim said that making Paul and Jamie a gay couple adds a “contemporary” element to Company: “The great key line — I’m going to paraphrase it — is ‘Just because we can get married, doesn’t mean we should,’ and that sums up everything about the gay aspect of marriage. That’s such a prescient line.”

Bobby’s girlfriends are now Bobbie’s boyfriends.

Like any single person, Bobby has to date a bunch of people who are wrong for him before he can find someone who is right for him. In the original show, he dates three women: Kathy, April, and Marta. In the Company revival, Bobbie now has three boyfriends: PJ, Andy, and Theo, who sing a barbershop-style “You Can Drive a Person Crazy.” The current rendition includes a few new lines, such as when Theo shouts, “Stop ghosting me!”

There are multiple role reversals.

In Company, there are five married couples. In Elliott’s version, she decided to switch some of the couple’s roles and lines. In the original, Jenny and David were a typical mid-century couple where David worked and Jenny stayed at home. Now, Jenny is a working mom and David is a stay-at-home dad. 

Then Peter and Susan, who share the news that they’re divorcing, have also been switched. Susan is now the outspoken wife, while Peter is a sensitive husband who faints at the sight of blood. They also have a new scene in Act II that wasn’t in the original script. 

The people who sing certain songs are different, too. “Poor Baby” is now sung by the husbands. “Have I Got a Girl For You” has been changed to “Have I Got a Guy For You,” now sung by the wives and Jamie. 

Elliott said that these changes were made because the original Company lined up more with traditional gender roles: All the men worked and were “a bit sanguine about marriage” while all the women were stay-at-home wives, “and they all seem to be into the idea of being married. That doesn’t feel very contemporary.” Indeed, ambivalence about marriage is something every gender shares nowadays.

Sondheim made some lyrical tweaks.

For the Company revival, Sondheim made lyric changes to his famous songs. Most of them were minor, a “she” instead of a “he.” But others were major. 

For example, in “Side by Side,” the couples described Bobby as “Never a bother. Seven times a godfather.” Now Bobbie is described as “Pal and pinch-hitter. Plus a perfect babysitter.” No wonder Bobbie hears her biological clock ticking; she’s surrounded by children!

Some of the changes also make the songs more hilarious. This writer’s favorite line change is in “Poor Baby”: When Bobby is having sex with April, his female friends originally sing, “She’s tall enough to be your mother.” In the new “Poor Baby,” Bobbie’s male friends sing of Andy, “He’s young enough to be your son.” Bobbie’s friends are shady!

Company

“Tick-Tock” stays in.

There’s a number that’s usually cut from Company called “Tick-Tock,” and it’s an interlude that plays while Bobby and April are having sex. In the original 1970 Broadway production, Donna McKechnie danced a solo choreographed by a pre-A Chorus Line Michael Bennett. 

The 2021 Broadway revival of Company keeps the “Tick-Tock” instrumental but gives it an extra layer of pathos for Bobbie. In a dream, Bobbie sees different versions of who she can be: Bobbie as an unappreciated wife. Bobbie as an overworked mother. Bobbie as an aging single woman. 

Right now, this sequence is a particular treat because Patti LuPone makes an appearance as a middle-aged party girl Bobbie. To paraphrase a song that was once in Company (it was cut way back in the 60s), it’s a multitude of Bobbies!  

Joanne offers Larry to Bobbie.

The most crucial scene in Company is arguably the scene where Joanne sings “The Ladies Who Lunch.” It’s not just because it’s the show’s 11 o’clock number. It’s the scene that pushes Bobbie into “Being Alive,” where after two and a half hours of uncertainty, Bobbie decides that she may want “someone to hold [her] too close.” 

In the original version of the scene, Bobby’s married older friend Joanne propositions him. In the revival, Joanne, noticing her husband Larry’s fondness for Bobbie, gives Bobbie permission to have an affair with Larry instead. 

Elliott said that Joanne’s actions stem from self-loathing: “[She] feels threatened because she’s getting so old. She feels like she’s losing her commodity in her world and also her husband, and she worries that he’s gonna have an affair and she tries to control that.”

What do you get?

When Joanne hits on Bobby in the original Company, she says, “I’ll take care of you.” And Bobby responds with, “But who will I take care of?” In this new version, when Joanne offers Larry to Bobbie, she says, “You can take care of him,” to which Bobby responds, “Who will take care of me?”

It’s a subtle distinction, but regardless, it’s the show’s aha moment that truly sums up the differences between Bobby and Bobbie: One is looking to open up and care for someone, while the other is learning how to be less selfless and to put herself first.

The Broadway revival of Company isn’t just about switching pronouns — it is deeply interested in how women and men can step out of their socially prescribed gender roles, connect better with other people, and finally learn the meaning of “being alive.”

Get Company tickets on TodayTix.