1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

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swo17
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1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#1 Post by swo17 » Mon May 17, 2021 1:56 pm

Original Cast Album: "Company"

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This holy grail for both documentary and theater aficionados offers a tantalizingly rare glimpse behind the Broadway curtain. In 1970, right after the triumphant premiere of Stephen Sondheim's groundbreaking concept musical Company, the renowned composer and lyricist, his director Harold Prince, the show's stars, and a large pit orchestra all went into a Manhattan recording studio as part of a time-honored Broadway tradition: the recording of the original cast album. What ensued was a marathon session in which, with the pressures of posterity and the coolly exacting Sondheim's perfectionism hanging over them, all involved pushed themselves to the limit—including theater legend Elaine Stritch, who fought anxiety and exhaustion to record her iconic rendition of "The Ladies Who Lunch." With thrilling immediacy, legendary filmmaker D. A. Pennebaker offers an up-close view of the larger-than-life personalities, frayed-nerve energy, and explosive creative intensity that go into capturing the magic of live performance.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by Chris Hegedus and Nate Pennebaker, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New audio commentary by composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim
• Audio commentary from 2001 featuring director D. A. Pennebaker, actor Elaine Stritch, and Broadway producer Harold Prince
• New conversation among Sondheim, orchestrator Jonathan Tunick, and critic Frank Rich
• New interview with Tunick on the art of orchestrating, conducted by author Ted Chapin
• Never-before-heard audio excerpts from interviews with Stritch and Prince, conducted by D. A. Pennebaker and Hegedus in 2000
• "Original Cast Album: 'Co-Op,'" a 2019 episode of the TV series Documentary Now! that parodies the film
• Reunion of the cast and crew of "Original Cast Album: 'Co-Op'" recorded in 2020, featuring director Alexander Buono; writer-actor John Mulaney; actors Rénee Elise Goldsberry, Richard Kind, Alex Brightman, and Paula Pell; and composer Eli Bolin
• English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• PLUS: An essay by author Mark Harris

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soundchaser
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Re: 1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#2 Post by soundchaser » Mon May 17, 2021 1:58 pm

I'm surprised they're charging the full $40 MSRP for this one. It's a great little documentary, and the special features are definitely going to be worth a look, but the main attraction is still under an hour. (And not exactly of the historical relevance that Night and Fog is...)

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Re: 1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#3 Post by beamish14 » Mon May 17, 2021 2:03 pm

I can't believe they got Sondheim to do a commentary. Wow.

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Re: 1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#4 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon May 17, 2021 2:04 pm

soundchaser wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 1:58 pm
I'm surprised they're charging the full $40 MSRP for this one. It's a great little documentary, and the special features are definitely going to be worth a look, but the main attraction is still under an hour. (And not exactly of the historical relevance that Night and Fog is...)
The extras look to be pretty extensive and they’ve been doing this for a while with all feature-length (40+ minute) titles

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Pavel
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Re: 1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#5 Post by Pavel » Mon May 17, 2021 2:05 pm

Looks to be the most stacked release this month, so I'd say the price is justified, though it probably won't help what is likely to be the month's weakest seller

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Re: 1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#6 Post by hearthesilence » Mon May 17, 2021 2:42 pm

beamish14 wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 2:03 pm
I can't believe they got Sondheim to do a commentary. Wow.
That's a hell of a bonus, and though I haven't followed him in recent years, back in the early '10s he was still extremely bright and articulate, so much that I can't think of another artist still alive who can do a better job discussing not only his own work but his own field. Maybe Scorsese? (Sondheim was also highly entertaining - honestly, he could've been half his age given his energy and clarity.)

FWIW, Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus were involved for a short time with the HBO documentary that was made on Sondheim, so they have been in-touch in the not-too-distant past.

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Re: 1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#7 Post by brundlefly » Mon May 17, 2021 2:43 pm

Pavel wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 2:05 pm
Looks to be the most stacked release this month, so I'd say the price is justified, though it probably won't help what is likely to be the month's weakest seller
Forum needs a sarcasm font.

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hearthesilence
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Re: 1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#8 Post by hearthesilence » Mon May 17, 2021 2:48 pm

Richard Brody has gushed over this film many times in print - IIRC, when it was released on the Criterion Channel, he wrote a piece where he argued that it was Pennebaker's greatest film, and he wasn't exactly unimpressed by his other work. Despite the length, I imagine this will be quite a draw among the musical theater crowd (or at least musical theater programs around North America).

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soundchaser
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Re: 1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#9 Post by soundchaser » Mon May 17, 2021 2:50 pm

Sondheim's discussions of his own work are nothing but enlightening - the conversation pieces that involve him sitting at a piano and explaining the composition of Into the Woods and Assassins should be required viewing for anyone interested in exploring those shows. So I'm very much looking forward to the commentary here. (The price tag isn't going to stop me from buying it.)

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Re: 1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#10 Post by hearthesilence » Mon May 17, 2021 2:55 pm

soundchaser wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 2:50 pm
Sondheim's discussions of his own work are nothing but enlightening - the conversation pieces that involve him sitting at a piano and explaining the composition of Into the Woods and Assassins should be required viewing for anyone interested in exploring those shows. So I'm very much looking forward to the commentary here. (The price tag isn't going to stop me from buying it.)
It's probably online somewhere, but I recall a video recording (probably from the '70s) where he goes through "Send in the Clowns," playing it at the piano while breaking down virtually every single word, even the most "innocuous" ones because every syllable is important in how an entire phrase is put together in terms of verbal language and the musical elements. He seems to do it off-the-cuff, but it's a pretty astonishing microscopic examination of just one song - it's really amazing all the thought that goes into it, though the process itself was likely long and tedious. (He has a great story about another famous Broadway composer who played essentially the same note ad nauseum on a piano - it was a lesson on the songwriting process, acknowledging how it could drive anyone mad, especially an unwilling spectator.)

I may have been conflating articles, but regardless here's the Brody piece that was published after the film went up on the Criterion Channel.

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soundchaser
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Re: 1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#11 Post by soundchaser » Mon May 17, 2021 3:00 pm

hearthesilence wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 2:55 pm
It's probably online somewhere, but I recall a video recording (probably from the '70s) where he goes through "Send in the Clowns," playing it at the piano while breaking down virtually every single word, even the most "innocuous" ones because every syllable is important in how an entire phrase is put together in terms of verbal language and the musical elements....
I think this is the one you're referring to? Imagine being one of those students.

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Re: 1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#12 Post by Bressonaire » Mon May 17, 2021 3:08 pm

Sondheim was involved in reworking Company for director Marianne Elliott's gender-swapped production that was to have opened in March 2020. Last week the new dates were announced: it's now scheduled to open, with Katrina Lenk as Bobbi, and Patti LuPone as Joanne, on Jan. 9, 2022. So he's still active in productions of his shows, even at 90. BTW, the discussion among Frank Rich, Sondheim, and Jonathan Tunick promises to be a winner too.

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hearthesilence
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Re: 1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#13 Post by hearthesilence » Mon May 17, 2021 4:39 pm

soundchaser wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 3:00 pm
hearthesilence wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 2:55 pm
It's probably online somewhere, but I recall a video recording (probably from the '70s) where he goes through "Send in the Clowns," playing it at the piano while breaking down virtually every single word, even the most "innocuous" ones because every syllable is important in how an entire phrase is put together in terms of verbal language and the musical elements....
I think this is the one you're referring to? Imagine being one of those students.
It doesn't look like it (I don't recall any facial hair), but it could be a moot point. Sondheim's done so many interviews over the years, you may notice that he can give the same talk or answer on any given topic...but it's usually a very long and very detailed answer, which give the impression of someone who has honed and memorized the best answer possible over years of practice.

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Re: 1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#14 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon May 17, 2021 5:34 pm

A must-buy for me -- as we have no other version of this. ;-)

What month is this coming out?

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swo17
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Re: 1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#15 Post by swo17 » Mon May 17, 2021 5:44 pm

August. On my birthday, actually

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Re: 1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#16 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon May 17, 2021 7:15 pm

swo -- Sounds like a nice present for yourself.... (unless you think there are no melodies in Sondheim's songs). ;-)

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Re: 1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#17 Post by Blutarsky » Mon May 17, 2021 8:22 pm

What I am truly excited for is the inclusion the wonderful Documentary Now episode. I am loving that in the releases or re-releases of great documentaries, Criterion is providing these wonderful parodies. I never watched the show until the Salesman re-issue included “Globesmen.” Here is hoping for “Final Transmission” on a future release of Stop Making Sense.

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Re: 1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#18 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon May 17, 2021 8:28 pm

I thought the first season was the best, though I think I liked the Vice episode most of all if memory serves, which is the one parody I had the least exposure to outside of the spoof. Still, if they re-released Grey Gardens and The Thin Blue Line with those eps in there I'd be much more likely to buy them.

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Re: 1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#19 Post by swo17 » Mon May 17, 2021 8:30 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 7:15 pm
swo -- Sounds like a nice present for yourself.... (unless you think there are no melodies in Sondheim's songs). ;-)
Yes, I just might treat myself

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Re: 1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#20 Post by guyetgenevieve » Tue May 18, 2021 2:22 am

I was sort-of hoping that they'd sneak either the filming of the 2006 Broadway revival or the 2011 Lincoln Center concert onto a second disc (Image Entertainment previously released the two on Blu-ray and have long been OOP), BUT this line-up of extras is phenomenal, so I can't really complain. Really looking forward to this!!

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Re: 1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#21 Post by britcom68 » Tue May 18, 2021 5:41 am

I cannot recommend this enough as a great piece which is fun and shows the creative process at work, but this release isn't for everyone (to paraphrase Sondheim himself, something not for everyone a Company tonight). If you do not like the full, fat sound of a large Broadway orchestra playing showtunes, sometimes the same song repeatedly back to back, then this could grate on your ears. I was raised with showtunes and have gone to far many musicals over the decades so this is right up my alley. I was initially was hoping for some footage from the reunion show or 2006 staging or the 2011 Philharmonic show so you can see the changes in interpretations of these songs over the different productions, but then again, this is not the box set of the musical itself. Still, this is a remarkably packed release and I will be very thankful to retire my OOP dvd.

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Re: 1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#22 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue May 18, 2021 8:59 am

I believe I heard my first musical (via LP) before I was 2 (Show Boat). ;-)

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Re: 1090 Original Cast Album: "Company"

#23 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri May 21, 2021 9:03 am

britcom68 wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 5:41 am
I cannot recommend this enough as a great piece which is fun and shows the creative process at work, but this release isn't for everyone (to paraphrase Sondheim himself, something not for everyone a Company tonight). If you do not like the full, fat sound of a large Broadway orchestra playing showtunes, sometimes the same song repeatedly back to back, then this could grate on your ears. I was raised with showtunes and have gone to far many musicals over the decades so this is right up my alley. I was initially was hoping for some footage from the reunion show or 2006 staging or the 2011 Philharmonic show so you can see the changes in interpretations of these songs over the different productions, but then again, this is not the box set of the musical itself. Still, this is a remarkably packed release and I will be very thankful to retire my OOP dvd.
I'm hit or miss on showtunes, but I didn't detect any of the warned (and personally anticipated) "grating" reactiveness to repetitions of songs here- not that there isn't some tinkering, but that kind of continual disruption can really bother me and instead this played as a totally intimate and electrified experience of rehearsing with the players as a fly on the wall. Pennebaker gets so close that we are allowed the rare privilege of binding to the vibrant energy of the show we're normally watching from an aloof position and attempting to access on this very level. I wasn't expecting to be flooded with this much pleasurable stimuli in the familiar, often-banal, behind-the-scenes style doc. This is definitely a release that'll benefit from extras for context beyond a surface level of enjoyment and I'm eagerly looking forward to picking it up and digging through them.

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