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Tim Winter

Second Look: COMPANY at the Gielgud Theatre

Walking along West End's Shaftesbury Avenue, it's easy to get blinded by the number of four and five star reviews on the billboards outside the theatres for all the shows. Can they ALL be that good?

Rosalie Craig, Richard Henders and Jennifer Saayeng in Company at the Gielgud Theatre Rosalie Craig, Richard Henders and Jennifer Saayeng in Company at the Gielgud Theatre.

Obviously they won't advertise negative comments or "this isn't bad if you've got £50 to spare", but all the same...one show that has been on for a while now and has garnered rave reviews everywhere is Sondheim's Company at The Gielgud Theatre. Does it deserve the adulation and all the awards it's started to pick up? It does.

If you have any interest in musical theatre you will already know that this new production, directed by Marianne Elliott, has taken some liberties with the original book (by George Furth) and the lead character has changed sex from Bobby to Bobbie, and a formally female role (Amy) is now Jamie and part of a same-sex couple.

It's a brave person who tries to fiddle with Mr. Sondheim's original conception, it's rarely allowed but it works so well that even he has said it should have been this way from the beginning. The gay relationship might have been difficult to pull off in 1970, when the show was first produced, but it's amazing that the idea hadn't been allowed before.

The night I saw it, Jennifer Saayeng took over from Rosalie Craig in the lead role of Bobbie and she was magnificent. The whole cast can't be faulted, dealing with the famous tongue-twisting lyrics, the comedy and the pathos brilliantly.

Special mention must be made for the extraordinary Patti LuPone and her show-stopping song 'The Ladies Who Lunch'. I'm trying to avoid the word veteran but let's say she has sung this a lot over the years, yet it was a masterclass in timing, no hint of auto-pilot, as fresh and as funny as if it were written yesterday.

Which sums up the show. There have been virtually no changes to lyric or book but it felt like a brand new show. The critics were right. Here are my five stars!

Company tickets