Coming to NYC’s Pure Nonfiction screening series tomorrow, Tuesday, February 19:
ORIGINAL CAST ALBUM: COMPANY & ORIGINAL CAST ALBUM: CO-OP
DA Pennebaker (COMPANY), Alex Buono (CO-OP)
New York Film Festival 1970 (COMPANY), DOC NYC 2018 (CO-OP)
A one-of-a-kind presentation of Pennebaker’s classic behind-the-scenes Broadway chronicle and the loving DOCUMENTARY NOW! send-up episode it inspired.
As explained in its opening card, Pennebaker was approached to film the album recording as a pilot for an intended television series, but the larger project never took off after the lead producers left NYC to head MGM in Hollywood. What remains is this compelling hour-long film, one of Pennebaker’s most enjoyable projects. The Direct Cinema master films the marathon 14-hour recording session with the COMPANY cast, plus a notable pick up shot a few days later, distilling it into a compelling exploration of artists performing under intense pressure. Recorded just after COMPANY debuted on Broadway, the cast gamely belts out their songs as the session wears on, taking direction from the cocky young Sondheim and producer Thomas Shepard. It all culminates in the dramatic final scene, the recording of the final song, Elaine Stritch’s solo “The Ladies Who Lunch,” which doesn’t go according to plan despite take after take.
As part of its new season, IFC’s Emmy-nominated series DOCUMENTARY NOW! pays loving tribute to Pennebaker’s classic, reimagining Sondheim’s COMPANY as a decidedly less-successful show called CO-OP. In the episode, producers Benedict Juniper (Taran Killam), Simon Sawyer (John Mulaney), and Howard Pine (James Urbaniak) oversee the cast album recording of the ill-fated musical CO-OP, featuring Kenny (Alex Brightman), the star of the show; Larry (Richard Kind), the out-of-breath doorman; Patty (Paula Pell), who has to go to the eye doctor; and Dee Dee (Renee Elise Goldsberry), a tennis coach who dreams of living in the building.