Stephen Sondheim musical ‘Company’ edited to include gay couple

Iconic musical Company will include a gay couple when it returns to the West End this year, it has been revealed.

The 1970s musical is being revived for a run at London’s Gielgud Theatre, but the traditionally-patriarchal musical has been given a massive shake-up for 2018.

Not only has original lead character Bobby been gender-flipped into female lead Bobbie, played by Rosalie Craig, but the show has also made changes to the supporting cast to include a same-sex couple

The role of cold-footed Bride-to-be Amy has been gender-flipped as Jamie, with Jonathan Bailey set to take on the role and perform “Getting Married Today”. Alex Gaumond will play his fiancé Paul.

Although it is far from the first major musical to include LGBT characters, out composer Stephen Sondheim – often considered the father of the modern American musical – seldom includes LGBT content in his most popular shows.

Sondheim gave his blessing for the change.

President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to theater composers and lyricists Stephen Sondheim in 2015 (Alex Wong/Getty)

Speaking to the Evening Standard, director Marianne Elliott explained: “We thought if we’re setting it now and Bobby is a successful, go-getting girl in New York, then she would know a fabulous male couple, so we had it in the back of our heads.

“We saw lots of girls for Amy and some really good ones and then said why don’t we just get our friend Johnny Bailey to give it a go and he did, he learnt the song [Getting Married Today] and came in. We were quite sceptical but he totally blew us away.

“He makes it very real, it feels very modern and I really get his predicament, so I emailed Sondheim and I said, ‘You better be sitting down for this one and preferably holding a drink’.

“Then I explained what had happened and he emailed back immediately saying, ‘OK you better be sitting down for this one and preferably holding a drink, I love it!'”

She added to Playbill: “I could not be more thrilled that Stephen Sondheim agreed to turn Amy into Jamie. I hope it makes this production feel very, very now.

“We are keeping the existing dialogue, and not changing the famous scene in which the character gets cold feet about their impending marriage and sings the iconic ’I’m Not Getting Married Today.’

“The characters of Jamie and Paul feel like a lot of the contemporary gay male friends I know.”

Stephen Sondheim (Thos Robinson/Getty for The New Yorker)

Bailey said: “It is a brilliant idea… you literally do not have to change a word — and suddenly you have a really honest, searing presentation of a man who is treading water between queer culture and the heteronormative ideal of marriage.

“That contradiction and debate is so relevant right now.”

Earlier this year a school in the Netherlands faced a theatrical controversy – when the headteacher cut out gay characters from the school musical because he was worried it would upset a Jehovah’s Witness family.

The school’s headteacher Ben de Vlugt shocked both pupils and parents when he intervened to censor the show, but claimed it was “important” to respect the views of everyone.