‘Company’ Returning to Broadway, With a Woman at its Center

‘Company’ Returning to Broadway, With a Woman at its Center

Goodbye, Bobby. Hello, Bobbie.

A re-gendered revival of the 1970 musical “Company,” which had a well-received production in London that opened last year, will arrive on Broadway next spring starring the Tony Award winners Katrina Lenk and Patti LuPone.

The show, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by George Furth, is about a chronically single about-to-turn 35-year-old wrestling with the judgment of a group of married friends. The original production won six Tonys, including best new musical, in 1971, and it has been revived twice, most recently in 2006.

The new production involves a significant rejiggering of the show’s gender dynamics. The protagonist, who is celebrating a 35th birthday in the show, is now female, implicitly introducing the biological clock into perceptions of her singleness. The production also reverses the genders in one of the show’s married couples, so that there is now a stay-at-home husband and a bread-winning wife, and transfers one of the show’s signature songs, “Getting Married Today,” which is about last-minute wedding jitters, from a straight woman (Amy) to a gay man (Jamie).

The revival is directed by Marianne Elliott, a celebrated British director who won Tony Awards for “War Horse” and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” and who directed last year’s Tony-winning revival of “Angels in America.”

“Company” will be the first musical directed by Ms. Elliott on Broadway, and also her first Broadway venture as lead producer. She and Chris Harper formed a production company, Elliott & Harper, so that she could take more control of her own work.

“I wanted to do something that was fun and creative and could speak to a large audience about being a woman now,” Ms. Elliott said. “By taking ‘Company,’ which is a musical that I’ve always loved, and giving it a female Bobbie rather than a male Bobby, it suddenly becomes very now — she’s single, she’s got a great career, she’s clearly got a lot of friends and a good apartment, but she is going into her late 30s and she hasn’t got a life partner, and all of her friends have an opinion on that.”

Ms. Elliott said that her production also reframes the story so that it is taking place inside Bobbie’s head — she is imagining what her friends will say about her. And she said the Broadway production will not be a replica of the London version — for starters, it will feature an American cast, she said, but also, “there’s no way we’re just going to reproduce what we did in London — hopefully we’ve learned what we can make better, and now we get a chance to do that.”

Ms. Lenk, who won a Tony last year for “The Band’s Visit,” will play Bobbie, succeeding Rosalie Craig, who played the role in London. Ms. LuPone, a legendary Broadway star who won Tonys for “Evita” and “Gypsy,” will play Joanne, a friend with a drinking habit and an amazing song, “The Ladies Who Lunch”; Ms. LuPone also played the role in London, to great acclaim.

The revival will be staged at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater, with an opening scheduled on March 22, which is the night of Mr. Sondheim’s 90th birthday.

This is the third musical revival announced for the current Broadway season; the others are “West Side Story,” which features lyrics by Mr. Sondheim, and “Caroline, or Change.”

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