One of Stephen Sondheim's most beloved Broadway musicals is about to get a gay makeover.
The New York Times reports that a new production of "Company," which nabbed six Tonys when it premiered in 1970, is being developed by the Roundabout Theater Company. Director John Tiffany, who helmed Broadway's "Once" as well as the current production of "The Glass Menagerie" starring Zachary Quinto, is said to be re-conceiving Bobby, the show's protagonist, as a gay man struggling with commitment issues.
“It’s still a musical about commitment, but marriage is seen as something very different in 2013 than it was in 1970,” Sondheim told the Times' Patrick Healy. “We don’t deal with gay marriage as such, but this version lets us explore the issues of commitment in a fresh way.”
Interestingly, audiences have been speculating over the character's sexuality since the show's 1970 debut. Sondheim is openly gay in real life, as was book writer George Furth, who died in 2008; as Capital New York pointed out, the original lyrics to the song “You Could Drive a Person Crazy" included the following line: "I could understand a person if it's not a person's bag/I could understand a person if a person was a fag." (More recent productions of the show have revised the line as: "I could understand a person if he said to go away/I could understand a person if he happened to be gay")
In the musical's previous incarnations, Bobby (a role originated by Dean Jones) has always been a commitment-phobic straight character with multiple girlfriends. In the 2006 revival, Bobby was played by Raúl Esparza; Neil Patrick Harris tackled the role in a 2011 concert production for the New York Philharmonic, which is available on DVD (check out Harris' "Company" performance on the 2012 Tony Awards above).
Playing Bobby in a workshop performance of the proposed revival will be Daniel Evans ("Sunday in The Park With George"), while Alan Cumming, Michael Urie and Bobby Steggert ("Big Fish") are also among the cast, according to the Times.