Get ready for Stephen Sondheim’s Company in Chennai

City-based theatre group, The Kuku Company, is back in business with a Stephen Sondheim musical comedy

It’s not easy to replicate a Broadway production that was nominated for 14 Tony Awards (winning six, including Best Musical). But that hasn’t stopped Amrita Fredrick, founder of The Kuku Company, from taking on the challenge of producing Stephen Sondheim’s 1970 musical comedy, Company. Under her direction, the theatre group presents their second production next Friday.

Their first musical, Les Misérables, was staged back in 2014 — the year they were founded — and was followed by an adaptation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for the centenary celebrations at Women’s Christian College in late 2015. Commenting on the long gaps between productions, Fredrick says, “Life happened; I had a baby. But we’re back now.”

Sign of the times

The story follows Bobby, a commitment-phobic 35-year-old. Over the course of the show, he juggles the pros and cons of marriage (with a healthy dose of skepticism). For help, he looks to five married couples who are his friends. We’ll see popular Chennai theatre faces like Freddy Koikaran, Dr Yohan Chacko, Sandeep John, Deepa Nambiar and Kamatchi playing these roles. “When it was first staged, it was considered revolutionary and ahead of its time, so the content is still relevant today. And while the original is set in New York, we kept the location neutral to make it more relatable,” says Fredrick. A lot of research and effort has also gone into the set design and costumes, for which they worked with an interior architect and stylist respectively.

Music on their mind

Since most of the actors are not trained singers, they have worked with music director Sangita Santosham and vocal coach Hannah Elliot since February. Fredrick, a trained singer herself, says, “I’m not sure if regular audiences will understand the amount of effort that goes into a show like this. But if you tell a musician that you’re tackling a Sondheim, their ears will prick up.”

Santosham explains that his music is very different. “It is full of odd notes, and time signature changes that you won’t see coming,” she says, giving the cast props for putting in the hours to work on their vocals.

Once this production is done, Fredrick has her eyes set on another ambitious project. “Chicago — the stage version, which focuses more on the storyline, as opposed to the film, which was more about glitz and glamour. We’re looking at sometime early next year,” she concludes.

The Kuku Company presents Company from June 7 to 9 at Museum Theatre, Egmore. (PG 13, adult themes and profanity). Tickets at ₹300, ₹500 and ₹1,000 on 9840859593

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