Gay director at Stage Door Players tackles commitment issues in ‘Company’

Besides Lewis, the cast features some recognizable local theater names. Jennifer Levison (of Souper Jenny fame) plays Joanne, the role originated by Stritch, while Marcie Millard (who starred in Stage Door’s recent “Master Class”) plays Jenny. Ironically, both performers were in an Actor’s Express version of the musical together.

July 16 – Aug. 8
Stage Door Players
5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road,
Dunwoody, GA 30338

‘Broadway Sings for Synchronicity’
July 12
Balzer Theatre
84 Luckie Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30303

Also in the cast are Barbara Cole Uterhardt, who plays Amy (the role originated by Beth Howland of “Alice” fame) and her husband Googie Uterhardt, as Larry.

Egizio feels that “Company” is one of Sondheim’s best works, one that introduced a new era of musical theater, as well as one of his most personal shows.

“It’s still relevant,” he says. “It’s about Bobby’s journey in finding love. He is single and is playing the field; middle aged and dating women younger than he is. His friends want him to settle down but he sees all the good and bad parts of being married. Whenever they invite him over they say it will be ‘the three of us.’ In a sense, he is all alone and is the third wheel among them.”

For years, one theory about why Robert is single is that he is gay. Some versions of “Company” have subtly hinted at that. George Furth, who wrote “Company,” has long denied it, as has Sondheim, although the openly gay Sondheim has mentioned that much of “Company” is based on his own experiences. According to Egizio, a recent London production was “overtly sexual” and had Robert holding the hand of his friend Peter. And in one version of the musical, Robert admits to a homosexual experience.

But regardless of whether audiences find Robert straight, gay or possibly bisexual, Egizio feels it is a production that speaks to everyone.

“No matter whether Bobby is gay or straight, it’s about not making a commitment,” he says. “Bobby is turning his nose away from the idea of settling down. But as one of his friends tells him, ‘You have to give up something to get.’ In the end, Bobby realizes that being alone is alone, not alive. Everyone can relate to that.”

Back in 2006, “Company” was restaged on Broadway with Raul Esparza in the lead. The production, which won a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, was innovative in that the ensemble also played musical instruments. Many people liked John Doyle’s new approach but others found the instruments distracting, drowning out what is considered one of Sondheim’s best scores. Egizio’s version is instrument-less.

‘Phantom’ for Synchronicity

On July 12, cast members of the national touring version of “The Phantom of the Opera” will perform a benefit for Synchronicity Performance Group’s Playmaking for Girls programs at Theatrical Outfit’s Balzer Theatre. Among the dozen or so participants is openly gay D.C. Anderson, who appeared on Broadway in “Phantom.”


Top photo: In ‘Company,’ Dustin Lewis stars as bachelor Robert, who spends the night of his 35th birthday weighing married life. (courtesy Stage Door Players)