Saturday, April 20, 2024

Broadway: “Company” Gets Mid-Show Standing Ovations, “American Buffalo” A Gem


I caught up again with two Broadway shows this weekend. “Company,” which won Best Musical Revival, is set to close at the end of this month. “American Buffalo” will shutter at the end of this week.

Why “Company” is closing is beyond me. A packed performance on Saturday was not the usual matinee. It was full of young people, and lots of POC. There were two standing ovations– one for Patti Lupone when she finished “Ladies Who Lunch” and another for Katrina Lenk for “Being Alive.”

Lupone won the Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. Lenk has been ignored by awards groups which is weird since she won Best Actress for “The Band’s Visit” not long ago. I was there on opening night last winter and appreciated her performance. But something has changed. Lenk has grown in the role. If Tony voters had seen her this weekend, she’d have won. She’s playing the central character Bobbi, who used to be a man in previous productions. Lenk is in almost every scene. She even sits and watches Lupone destroy the theater with “Ladies.” She is dazzling.

Lupone is not the only scene stealer in “Company.” Matt Doyle, who also won a Tony, nearly walks off with the show in the patter song, “Getting Married Today.” (Sondheim fans will notice this song reappears in a different form in “Sweeney Todd” as do some other rogue elements.) Marianne Elliot’s direction, which also won a Tony, is maybe the best here with the famous trick refrigerator filling in as an actual character. Kudos also to Jennifer Simard.

Everything about this production of “Company” will be memorable for time to come. It looked pretty sold out to me. See it before it closes…

SAM ROCKWELL. He lost the Tony to British actor Simon Russell Beale from “The Lehman Trilogy.” But when you see him “American Buffalo.” as Teach, it’s a star turn. The slicked back hair, aviator sunglasses, mismatched “cool” clothes, and the swagger: Teach was a part Rockwell was born to play. Laurence Fishburne does the heavy lifting as the straight man to Teach’s insanity, sometimes a thankless job, but he pulls it off with aplomb. Darren Criss is an essential part of the triangle in David Mamet’s famed play. This might be the best production I’ve seen since the Al Pacino staging in 1983. (Yes, I was there.) Just a few days left. And PS the junk shop set is worth the price of admission!

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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