Originally a collection of one-act plays written by librettist
George Furth, Company was eventually shaped into a musical
thanks to the vision of legendary director Harold Prince. At
Prince's suggestion, Furth reworked these one-acts into a libretto
examining the pros and cons of marriage, and Stephen Sondheim
was brought in to provide the music. To tie all the pieces together,
Furth added the character of Robert, a bachelor whose 35th birthday
party provides the occasion to bring all of Furth's characters
together at the opening of the play. It seems everyone but Robert
is married or getting married, and they are all eager for their
bachelor friend to follow in their footsteps, but Robert isn't
quite ready to take the plunge. He's sure that "Someone
Is Waiting", the perfect girl just for him, and until she
makes herself known, he is content to amuse himself with the
countless women who come to New York every day.
Meanwhile, Robert has the opportunity to observe the lives
of all of his married friends, and what he sees does not exactly
fill him with encouragement. They fight, plan affairs, talk of
divorce, and take refuge in pot and alcohol. It's enough to make
Robert question whether he ever wants to join the ranks
of the married. In the end, however, in spite of all his friends'
failings, he comes to the conclusion that there is no point in
"Being Alive" unless one has someone to share it with.
Company opened at the Alvin Theatre on April 6, 1970,
with a cast that featured Dean Jones (Robert), Elaine Stritch
(Joanne), Susan Browning (April), Pamela Myers (Marta), and Donna
McKechnie (Kathy). Although Dean Jones had to be replaced less
than a month into the run because of health concerns, the production
went on to win the New York Drama Critics' Award and six Tony
Awards including "Best Musical", "Best Music",
"Best Lyrics", and "Best Book". The production
closed on January 1, 1972, after 706 performances, then moved
to London where it ran for another eight months.