BWW Reviews: Chromolume Theatre's LOVE SONGS Beautifully Explores Relationships
Love Songs is performed in two scenes and runs about 75 minutes.
In opera and operetta, the storytelling is completely through music; there are few or no spoken words. Steven Cagan's world premiere Love Songs is a modern day operetta of sorts with a line or two of spoken dialogue here and there, but composed of 99% music. Now through July 28 at the Attic Theatre, Love Songs boasts a profoundly rich score, a wonderfully adept musical cast and superior direction from Kay Cole.
Two other couples are at a resort hotel to celebrate the nuptials of Gaby and Jeremy (Jean Altadel and Eduardo Enrikez). Jeremy is away on business just prior to the wedding and Gaby has some news, which when relayed to him over the phone, makes him seriously reconsider his responsibility to her. Friends Sarah and Ben (Sara J. Stuckey and Craig McEldowney) are having their ups and downs in a six-year relationship. Craig, a poet, can write about the ideal concept of love but has difficulty experiencing it, while Sarah craves his attentions and will stoop to just about anything to engage him. Old-timers Rose and Roy (Jean Kauffman and Kurt Andrew Hansen) have been together for a while with no apparent problems, as both like to game-play, have their own way together and alone, and want to keep it that way. Rose sees a grand opportunity to teach Ben a trick or two and Roy gives Sarah some very needed TLC, at least overnight. Such is the plot where the six people sing their joys and frustrations through a series of escapades.
What makes Love Songs work is an optimistic viewpoint toward love relationships, some terrifically beautiful music and six splendid actors who get the chance to act as well as sing the hell out of this material.
In order to gain specific details of each character's life story and dilemma you must listen cautiously to every single lyric and phrase, as there is not enough dialogue to supply background info; it's all in the lyrics. This may be difficult for some people. Another issue that arises is the overly happy ending which some will find too clean and ready-made. But if you can buy into the hope and joy in that - and who doesn't long for a happy ending - you will enjoy Love Songs tremendously. Steven Cagan has lovingly created some arresting songs to depict a particular emotional moment. There are no finer examples than "The Gospel Truth" where everyone confronts Gaby with the nitty gritty about commitment, and "I'm Old" where Jean Kauffman as Rose scrumptiously shows the complete inaccuracy of the implications of that phrase, physically and erotically.
The cast are over.the.moon first and foremost great singers. But with music that expresses emotional transformations moment to moment, beat by beat, each is called upon to manifest an outpouring of their feelings, and fortunately, each actor here is more than up to the acting challenge. Enrikez as Jeremy is strung out, at a crossroads and Altadel as Gaby, in a state of elation; both optimally express their contradictory conditions. McEldowney as Ben, being the intellectual, suffers frustration, but not nearly as much as Sarah, whose highs and lows Stuckey beautifully emotes. McEldowney supplies some priceless comic reactions and is in outstanding voice. Kauffman is delightfully seductive as Rose, and Hansen cockey yet appealing and freewheeling as Roy. Kay Cole has staged with a brisk pace and possesses a keen sensitivity for dramatic impact. This is black box theatre, a tiny space, and as I've always said, it's what's up front that counts. No need for fancy sets or costumes. If the actors and director give their all to the script, it's a go... and Love Songs, with very minor exceptions, simply flows along, filling the bill. This is a great audience pleaser!
For more information, visit www.chromolume-theatre.com/lovesongs.html.