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BWW Reviews: Ghostly Rock Opera DEEP LOVE More Concert Than Drama

Jon Peter Lewis and Amy Whitcomb (Photo: Jeremy Daniel)

Deep Love: A Ghostly Rock Opera, now receiving a handsomely designed mounting at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, began life as a rock concert with a plot, created by three fellows in the music industry with, according to their bios, little or no experience in musical theatre. As a concert, their two-act show is a spirited display of hard-driving goth rock, but as musical theatre, the generic lyrics and muddy storytelling leave much to be desired.

Co-bookwriter, co-director Jon Peter Lewis, plays Old Bones, who, despite being dead, remains faithful to his vow of undying love for his widow Constance (Melanie Stone). Constance considers suicide until she falls for lumberjack Friedrich (bookwriter/composer/lyricist Garrett Sherwood) who is still being stalked by his ex, (Amy Whitcomb) Florence.

(Non-actor Ryan J. Hayes collaborates on the book, music and lyrics and Michael Rader, who does have a healthy collection of theatre credits, co-directs.)

Jon Peter Lewis, Garrett Sherwood,
Melanie Stone and Company (Photo: Jeremy Daniel)

Jealousy and revenge serve as excuses for a lot of passionate belting but there is so little character development and so few dramatic specifics that the evening adds up to little more than a vocal showcase. Fortunately, that's where the company excels. Lewis, sporting extensive skeletal makeup by Ariel LaFontaine, squeezes intimidating tension out of his tenor and Stone slowly takes Constance on a descent into madness. Gravel-voiced Sherwood is expressionless as an actor, but Whitcomb helps fill the void with high-energy charisma.

Choreographer Ray Mercer's ghostly ensemble of ballet dancers greatly embellish the erotic-gothic tone, as do the designs by Bree Perry (costumes), Braden Howard (lights) and David Goldstein (set). The on-stage rock band sounds great under music director Ben Mathews, but Deep Love needs some deeper writing to breathe some life into it.

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