Modern twist for Sondheim’s Company sees gender-swap casting
Marianne Elliott’s new production of Company, supported by Bruno Wang Productions, has taken an exciting direction by casting its central couple as same sex.
Jonathan Bailey, who starred in Broadchurch, will play Jamie, the character originally created for an actress as Amy. His fiancé Paul will be played by Alex Gaumond.
The main character of Bobby has also changed gender from male to female, becoming Bobbie, and will be played by Rosalie Craig (The Light Princess, Aspects of Love).
The musical follows Bobbie as she approaches her 35th birthday with all her friends wondering why she isn’t married. Songs featured in the piece include The Ladies Who Lunch, Side by Side and You Could Drive a Person Crazy.
Former War Horse director Elliott explained her decision to change Amy’s gender by saying: “We thought if we’re setting it now and Bobbie is a successful, go-getting girl in New York, then she would know a fabulous male couple, so we had it in the back of our heads.”
Company’s composer, Stephen Sondheim, is delighted with the idea. Elliott says: “I emailed him and said, ‘You’d better be sitting down for this one and preferably holding a drink’.
“Then I explained what had happened and he emailed back immediately saying, ‘OK you’d better be sitting down for this one and preferably holding a drink: I love it.’”
Elliott is full of praise for Bailey’s interpretation of the role. “He makes it very real. It feels very modern.”
Bailey adds: “It is a brilliant idea… you literally do not have to change a word – and suddenly you have a really honest, searing presentation of a man who is treading water between queer culture and the heteronormative ideal of marriage. That contradiction and debate is so relevant right now.”
He joins a cast that is led by legendary performer Patti LuPone and includes Mel Giedroyc, George Blagden and Matthew Seadon-Young. The designer is Bunny Christie, with choreography by Liam Steel, lighting by Neil Austin and sound by Ian Dickinson.
Company runs at the Gielgud Theatre in London’s West End from September 26. The original production was nominated for a record-setting 14 Tony Awards and won six.