Stephen Sondheim’s award winning musical Company, from the book by George Furth, will be coming to The Abbey Theatre.

It will take to the stage in St Albans for five performances only, between June 14 and 17, in which the fourteen-strong cast from the Company of Ten will sing, dance and act their way through one of Sondheim’s most comical pieces.

Company is one of Sondheim’s earlier works, set and first performed in 1970. Director Tim Hoyle has set the production in the present, as originally intended.

Set in New York, it is Bobby’s 35th birthday and he is surrounded by five couples, his long term friends who have thrown him a party. He is the lone bachelor amongst the married and engaged and he observes their lives as they fight, plan affairs, talk about divorce and take refuge in food, alcohol and pot.

Bobby cannot commit to a steady relationship, let alone marriage, and is juggling three girlfriends. His female friends seek to marry him off, the male ones seemingly envy him his freedom while Bobby hopes for the impossible – to marry someone who is an amalgam of all his married female friends.

Company was a ground breaking musical because it does not have a beginning, middle and end. It is a series of short vignettes presented in no particular order, as Bobby remembers them. The birthday party comes back throughout the show, with different outcomes as he changes his mind.

Over a series of dinner parties, social occasions and conversations, Bobby attempts to understand the pros and cons of marriage from his diverse and frequently hilarious friends. By looking at their relationships he contemplates his persistent single state, and whether he wants to change it.

Musical Director Clive Swann studied at the London College of Music and has been an MD on many musicals for amateur companies in Hertfordshire and North London. “I saw the original production of Side By Side By Sondheim in 1976 and have been hooked ever since. Over the years I have been privileged to work on several of his shows including Sweeney Todd, Into The Woods and Gypsy.”

Sarah Ferdinands, who has been acting in musical theatre since a child, plays Marta, one of Bobby’s girlfriends. She finds Sondheim’s musicals irresistible. “He manages to intrigue, amuse, shock and comfort in the same breath. His music and lyrics grab you with both hands and force you to look at yourself, your own behaviour and desires, whilst reassuring you that your own life is no more dysfunctional than anyone else’s. His work is a kind of therapy!”

Abbey Theatre Main Stage, Westminster Lodge, Holywell Hill, St Albans, AL1 2DL, June 14 to 17. Details: 01727 857861