Harry: You've got so many reasons for not being with someone, but Robert, you haven't got one good reason for being alone.
Company is an American musical with book by George Furth and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The plot revolves around Bobby, a handsome and well-liked single man, the five married couples who are his best friends, and three of his girlfriends. Unlike most book musicals, which follow a clearly delineated plot, the show consists of short vignettes, presented in no particular chronological order, all linked together by a celebration for Bobby's 35th birthday. One of its most notable aspects was that it was among the first musicals to deal with more adult problems through its music. As Sondheim put it, "they are middle-class people with middle class-problems."
This musical provides examples of:
Adaptational Sexuality: A rewritten version is in the works with Bobby as a gay man struggling to commit to one man.
Amicable Exes: An extreme example: by the second act Peter and Susan have gotten divorced but they are still living together and raising the children together, and have found that the divorce has actually strengthened their relationship. They express their happiness but also state that they aren't getting married again when Bobby asks.
Anachronic Order: There is no plot, just a series of vignettes depicting Bobby's relationships with his married friends and his three girlfriends, and the view he gets on love, relationship and marriage from his view of their lives. Consequently, it's unclear when most of the scenes take place in relation to each other, with the exception of the intercut sequences of his birthday party.
Anti-Love Song: Sorry-Grateful, downplayed. Bob asks Harry if he's ever sorry that he got married. Harry's answer is a yes, and a no — he's sorry, and grateful, because married life is very different from being in love.
Bowdlerise: You Can Drive a Person Crazy originally went, "I could understand a person/If it's not a person's bag./I could understand a person/If a person was a fag." Later productions changed it to, "I could understand a person/If he said to go away./I could understand a person/If he happened to be gay."
Book Ends: Bobby's 35th birthday party opens and closes each act.
Broken Bird: Depending on the interpretation, Joanne could be seen as a cynical example: She is an alcoholic who has been twice divorced and is currently on her third husband. She is rather different from Bobby's other friends, spends most of the scenes making occasional snarky remarks, and is shown being extremely critical of both her husband, who clearly loves her with all his heart, and of Bobby. However, Bobby describes her as "warm", and her husband says that her behaviour comes from the fact that she has "no self-esteem". In the end, she also plays something of a mentorly role to Bobby, as she is the one who makes him question what he wants from a relationship.
Broken Record: At the end of The Ladies Who Lunch, Joanne repeatedly sings the word "rise."
BSOD Song: The second half of The Ladies Who Lunch, where Joanne realizes that she has wasted her life criticizing others instead of trying to change for the better.
The Cast Showoff: In the original production, Another Hundred People was written specifically for Pamela Myers for the role of Marta, a lengthy song for a relatively minor character. The dance sequence Tick-Tock was created by choreographer Michael Bennett for his future wife Donna McKechnie, the original Kathy; the number is frequently cut or abridged in subsequent productions. In the recent Lincoln Center production, Neil Patrick Harris performs a few magic tricks during one of the musical numbers.
Chivalrous Pervert: Bobby can be played this way, as he is fooling around with multiple women and it's clear that he has no problem with casual sex and one-night stands, but seems to be genuinely kind and caring towards the women he knows and doesn't overstep his bounds with his married female friends. In What Would We Do Without You? as his married friends describe him as the perfect friend, they say that he is "a flirt but never a threat".
Coming of Age Story: For Bobby. In Side By Side By Side his friends comment on how they've gotten older but he seems to stay the same, and at the end Joanne tells him that he's not a kid anymore.
Cut Song: Happily Ever After, Marry Me A Little and Multitude Of Amys, although Marry Me A Little was put back into the show as the act I finale. Tick-Tock is also frequently left out of productions, although it was included in the 2011 concert staging.
Establishing Character Moment: The opening scene is this for several of the characters. First, it shows Bobby's popularity and his friendship with the couples. Sarah and Harry's competitive and combative relationship is established as they give him their present. Amy's neurotic nature is shown as she presents him with the present from her and Paul. Joanne's cynical and sarcastic nature is shown when she snarks at the other wives and, when one of them asks Bobby who she is, responds thus:
Joanne: That is I, miss. I'm very rich and I'm married to him, and I'd introduce him but I forgot his name.
Friendship Song: Side By Side By Side/What Would We Do Without You?, Bobby's ode to his married friends and their description of him as the perfect friend, but it's ultimately a subversion as the brief Un Duet moment shows that even though he has friends, Bobby is still, ultimately, alone, and the lyrics of What Would We Do Without You show that his married friends use him as something of a crutch to help them through their own marital difficulties.
Girl Next Door: Kathy, Bobby's longtime girlfriend. She is a sweet, wholesome girl from Cape Cod who feels out of place in New York, and Bobby admits that at the beginning of their relationship he wanted to marry her. She admits that she felt the same way before telling him that she's moving back to Cape Cod to get married and have a family.
Growing Up Sucks: "You're not a kid anymore, Robby! I don't think you'll ever be a kid again, kiddo!"
Happily Married: Deconstructed, as it's very clear that all of the couples have far from fairy-tale marriages, but in the end one is left with the impression that they are, ultimately, happy and fulfilled in their relationships.
"I Want" Song: First, Someone is Waiting depicts Bobby's impossible dream of finding the perfect woman, who combines the best parts of all of his female friends. Then in Marry Me a Little, he expresses a desire for an easy, no-strings marriage, but it's clear that what he's hoping for isn't realistic or sustainable. Finally in Being Alive he starts by decrying marriage, but ultimately expresses a strong desire for someone to share his life with.
Idle Rich: In the 2011 New York Philharmonic production, as Bobby describes each of his female friends in Someone Is Waiting, they are shown each doing their normal household activities, such as reading a magazine or folding children's clothes, but Joanne is shown lounging and staring off into the distance.
Incredibly Long Note: "We looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove you." This infamous 40 second note (18 in the recording) comes from a peculiarity in the staging of the original production: the note was held for exactly the duration of how long it took the two elevators in Boris Aronson's set to do a complete raise! In other productions, including the 2007 revival, the note is sometimes shortened. The 2011 concert retains the full length.
Ironic Birthday: It's on his 35th birthday that Bobby finally realizes that "alone is alone, not alive" and realizes that he does want commitment.
Like Parent, Like Spouse: When Larry is talking about why he loves Joanne so much in spite of her behaviour, he mentions that his mother was a "very difficult woman", suggesting that there's an element of this.
List Song: The Little Things You Do Together describes the ways that couples interact and the activities they share that can make (or break) a relationship. The Ladies Who Lunch describes different sorts of rich, middle-aged women who wile away their time trying to escape or ignore their directionless, unfulfilled lives. Someone Is Waiting also has Bobby describing the best qualities of all of his married female friends as he imagines what his perfect woman would be like.
Living Emotional Crutch: The lyrics of What Would We Do Without You? show that Bobby's married friends use him as this to help them through their marital difficulties.
What would we do without you?
How would we ever get through?
Should there be a marital squabble,
Be there with the glue.
Love Dodecahedron: In addition to his three girlfriends, Someone is Waiting shows that Bobby does find all of his married female friends attractive in one way or another, and he is depicted as innocently flirting with them (there's even a line in What Would We Do Without You that states that one of the reasons he is such a good friend is that he is "a flirt but never a threat"). There's also the scene where he proposes to Amy on the spur of the moment, the one where Peter asks him if he's ever had a homosexual experience, and the one where Joanne asks him when they're going to "make it" before suggesting he visit her the next day while her husband is at work and declaring that she'll "take care of him".
Lyrical Dissonance: While the show we all know and love has some of this, mostly when involving Joanne, the Cut SongHappily Ever After would have absolutely taken the cake. It's a peppy, cheerful song about how life is dismal and horrible for everyone.
The Little Things You Do Together, an incredibly catchy song that shows marriage getting progressively bleaker.
Refrain from Assuming: Amy's song is actually titled Getting Married Today but is often misreferred to as "Not Getting Married Today".
Rich Bitch: Joanne seems to be this, as exemplified by the following quote from the opening scene, but there are a few moments that show a slightly softer side of her. Bobby also describes her as "warm" in Someone is Waiting.
Joanne: I'm very rich and I'm married to him, and I'd introduce him but I forgot his name.
Rich Boredom: The Ladies Who Lunch is Joanne's scathing description of the empty and ultimately meaningless lives of rich, middle-aged women, herself included, and the various ways they try to distract themselves or remain in denial of how unfulfilled they feel.
Slap-Slap-Kiss: Sarah and Harry's scene involves them continuously contradicting each other before getting into a definitely-not-playful karate demonstration, but ends with this:
Sarah: I'll turn out the lights. I always do.
Harry: No you don't.
Sarah: Oh Harry, I love you.
Smoking Is Cool: It was made in the 70's so several of the characters smoke. The most notable is Joanne (in the DVD of the 2011 concert version, you can see that her cigarettes are Pall Malls) who states that smoking is "the best", and who mocks Bobby for saying that he "meant to" smoke but never did, pointing out that that statement basically sums up his life and his lack of resolve and commitment.
Stepford Snarker: Joanne could be seen as an example, depending on the interpretation. She is a snarky, abrasive alcoholic who has been divorced twice. Her current husband, Larry, says that she is "wildly conceited" with "no self-esteem", and that she still is unable to believe that he loves her and continues to be fascinated by her. Her song, The Ladies Who Lunch, starts as her critique of rich middle-aged women who wile away their lives with meaningless activities but turns into a scathing description of her own directionless life.
There's no one In his life, Robert ought to have a woman...
There's another one that is used for comic effect at the end of Barcelona, the morning after Bobby and April have slept together and she is getting ready to leave to be on a flight to Barcelona. Bobby makes the usual false pleas that she stay, clearly wanting nothing more than to go back to sleep, leading to this exchange:
April: That's not to say That if I had my way... Oh, well...I guess...okay!
Joanne: "Meant to"? "Meant to"? Story of your life, "meant to". Jesus, you were lifted right out of a Kraft-Ebbing case history. You were always outside staring in the window while everyone was inside dancing at the party. Now, I insist you smoke. Here, Rob, smoke.
Bobby: No thank you. You smoke. I'll watch.
Joanne: "Watch"? Did you hear yourself? Did you hear what you just said, kiddo? "Watch"! I'm offering you the chance to-
Bobby: I don't want one!
Joanne: Because you're weak! I hate people who are weak!
Threesome Subtext: While his relationship with his married friends seems to be completely platonic, in Side by Side by Side/What Would We Do Without You? Bobby talks about how his married friends are all he needs and the couples talk about what a perfect friend he is and how his presence helps them through all of their marital difficulties.
Title Drop: As with many musicals, the opening song.