Roundabout's Todd Haimes Comments on Gender-Bending Company Reading, Featuring Alan Cumming, Bobby Steggert, Michael Urie

By Michael Gioia
October 16, 2013

Todd Haimes, artistic director of Roundabout Theatre Company, has issued a statement regarding the upcoming closed reading of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's Company, in which the main character of Bobby is portrayed as a gay man with commitment issues and multiple boyfriends.



"Roundabout produces many internal workshops and readings for a variety of purposes," said Haimes in a statement issued to Playbill.com. "Each season, we fulfill part of our mission through development of classic and new works by established and emerging writers.

"We have a long and rewarding relationship with Stephen Sondheim. A reading of Company gives us an opportunity to revisit the musical we produced in 1995 and to work with [director] John Tiffany, an artist we have wanted to work with for a long time. The reading provides a safe environment for our artists to explore bold choices."

As first reported by Playbill.com columnist Seth Rudetsky in this week's Onstage & Backstage, Bobby Steggert, who currently stars in Broadway's Big Fish, and Michael Urie (Buyer & Cellar) are attached to the reading, which pits Steggert as "Kathy," the role created by Donna McKechnie, and Urie as one of Bobby's "girlfriends" (now boyfriends).

According to the New York Times, composer Sondheim is collaborating with Tony Award-winning director Tiffany (Once, The Glass Menagerie) on the 1970 musical, which was revived by Roundabout Theatre Company in 1995.

Tony Award winner Alan Cumming, who will star in the 2014 Roundabout revival of Cabaret, is attached to the project as "Joanne," who sings "The Ladies Who Lunch" and was originally played by Elaine Stritch, and Tony nominee Daniel Evans (Sunday in the Park With George) will play Bobby.

Sondheim, who said he was "intrigued" by the idea of re-envisioning Bobby as a gay male, has been reportedly "rewriting lyrics here and there and rewriting some of the dialogue, though as little as possible since George [Furth] isn't around."

Tiffany is holding rehearsals at Roundabout this week, and the musical will be performed for a private audience Oct. 18. Following the reading, Roundabout and the creative team will assess the possibility of moving forward.

Company, featuring music and lyrics by Sondheim and a book by Furth, opened April 26, 1970, at the Alvin Theatre. The production took home 1971 Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical (Furth), Best Direction of a Musical (Harold Prince), Best Lyrics for a Musical (Sondheim), Best Original Score (Sondheim), Best Scenic Design (Boris Aronson) and Best Musical.