Sitcom star Neil Patrick Harris returns to the stage in "Company." The Stephen Sondheim and George Furth musical is playing at Avery Fisher Hall for this weekend only. NY1's Frank DiLella recently stopped by one of the final rehearsals and filed the following report.
Sondheim enthusiasts will certainly be in good company this weekend if they can score a ticket to The New York Philharmonic's presentation of "Company."
This concert staging of the 1970's Tony Award winning musical features an all-star cast led by Neil Patrick Harris. Harris, who currently stars on TV's "How I Met Your Mother," plays Bobby, a bachelor struggling with the realities of dating and settling down.
"I'm a huge fan of Stephen Sondheim," says Harris. "I think his work requires a lot of discipline and I don't really get the chance to do much stage right now because of my schedule, so I'm really only able to do little short stints in shows."
The busy schedules of Harris and his high profile co-stars forced Director Lonny Price to be extra creative as he figured out how to rehearse with a large portion of the cast not present. His solution: old fashioned stand-ins and new technology.
"What we have here is students from Pace University and they've learned every single part," says Price. "They just keep jumping in when somebody is out, and someone is always out."
"They made little video tapes from behind, so you weren’t trying to transfer in your mind," says actor Craig Bierko. "You could hold your iPhone and do your little idiot steps. Now the challenge is to put your arm down - because everyone is so used to using their iPhone."
Harris learned his music out on the West Coast via an iPod. He also corresponded with "Company" composer Stephen Sondheim through email to find out the back story of certain songs.
Harris says, "I've just been sending him emails, random thought emails back and forth, 'What the heck is with all the photos on the walls?' And thankfully he writes me back and tells me, so that's good.
So what is with the photos on the walls?
Harris explains, "They're a friend of his, I think Arthur Laurent's actually. In his house in Montauk all his friends would have their pictures on the wall that said you know, 'with love'."
While this production of "Company" finishes its brief run on Saturday, plans are afoot to have a film version of the performance play movie theaters across the country this summer.