Original Cast Album: Company (1970)

original cast album company poster 1970 movie
8.0 Overall Score

Fun insight into what goes into bringing a musical to a recording

Could have been longer, series didn't continue

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Original Cast Album:  Company

Studio:  Castle Drive/Talent Associates-Norton Simon

Genre(s):  Documentary

Release Date(s):  October 28, 1970

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

original cast album company beth howland getting married today

“Getting Married Today” stresses me out

Company is a Broadway smash.  Now, the cast of the hit Stephen Sondheim show is going to the studios to put their performances to tape.  With a limited time and tensions sometimes running high, the music will flow…and a creative process is discovered.  D. A. Pennebaker is there to see it all and bring it to the fans of the theater and fans of music.

Directed by D. A. Pennebaker, Original Cast Album:  Company is a short documentary film.  The film was originally intended to be part of a series of film going behind the scenes of different locations, but the movie ended up being a one-off.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #1090).

original cast album company stephen sondheim

I don’t know how this is going to sound…

You go to a musical and you see a crafted performance.  I always get tense watching musicals…I fear for the performances, mistakes, and issues (I did see a performance of Blood Brothers in London which had huge problems and a cast reconfiguration during the act break).  Watching Original Cast Album:  Company didn’t help my anxieties.

The film is rather simple.  It follows an intense day of recording with the cast trying to nail their on-stage numbers in a studio.  It demonstrates that the “in the moment” aspect of the theater is totally different from recording and how editing and “fixing” audio can actually make it far more difficult.  It doesn’t go deep into the technical aspects (as someone in production it would be nice to see), but you get glimpses of it.

It is interesting to watch Sondheim watching others interpret his work.  He has to give up his creation and trust the artists that are performing it and the people recording it.  You see him not loving every decision being made by the stars, but it isn’t part of the chain of command.

original cast album company elaine stritch the ladies who lunch performance

This isn’t getting any better

The film’s final battle is Elaine Stritch trying to nail her performance of “The Ladies Who Lunch”.  It is getting tense, Thomas Z. Shepard, Sondheim, and Stritch are all getting frustrated and it isn’t making it get better.  All behave like professionals, and you don’t get a lot of attitude (which is a nice change when there are normal discussions of stars)…Stritch is just as frustrated with herself as having to perform it…no one wants to hurt anyone’s feelings…and ending the session is all for the best.

Original Cast Album:  Company is an interesting insight into not only what happens in a stage show but how it doesn’t always easily translate to other mediums.  The stage has its own power and brings out things in the performers that aren’t the same as screen and definitely not the same as in a studio.  The movie leaves you wanting to hear how it all turned out and seeking out more on Company (which was probably the original goal of the planned series).

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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