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Composer Stephen Sondheim gives blessing to same-sex couple in ‘Company’

The new character will be played by 'Broadchurch' star Jonathan Bailey

By Steve Brown

Stephen Sondheim has given his blessing for a same-sex couple in his hit musical Company.

The new production of the composer’s hit musical is set to return to the West End this September and director Marianne Elliott has already switched the gender of main character Bobby from a man to woman – who will be played by Rosalie Craig.

Now in another twist, Broadchurch star Jonathan Bailey will play Jamie, a character who was original called Amy, and Alex Gaumond takes on the role of Jamie’s partner, Paul.

In an interview with the Standard, Elliott revealed Sondheim – who is openly gay and in a relationship with Jeff Romley – didn’t have any hesitations about the change.

She said: “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 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’.”

Bailey, who is best known for his role in Broadchurch, said the production is now an honest presentation of “queer culture and the heteronormative ideal of marriage”.

He 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.”