THEATER: TIME SHIFT

COMPANY ONCE HAD PUNCH; NOW IT OFFERS PLEASANTRIES

IT'S ONE OF LIFE'S CHOICE IRONIES that (in the realm of art, anyway) what is gentle and equivocal often outlasts what is tough and brazen. When in 1970 Company first opened--music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by George Furth--it was celebrated for its punch. Here was an innovative, hard-hitting musical that trafficked in booze and pot, bile and cynicism, promiscuity and adultery. Yet these are the aspects of Company that seem most dated a quarter-century later in a revival that has just come to Broadway, starring Boyd Gaines as Robert, the bachelor of many nicknames (Bobby, Robby, Bubby) who can't...

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