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Bellissima Productions To Present LOVE/SICK

The production runs for one weekend only at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12-14.

In their second full-length Covid-adapted production this season, one of Buffalo's newest theatre companies Bellissima Productions will present John Cariani's "Love/Sick" for one weekend only at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12-14 through ShowTix4U.

A darker cousin to "Almost, Maine," Love/Sick is a collection of nine slightly twisted and completely hilarious short plays. Set on a Friday night in an alternate suburban reality, this 80-minute romp explores the pain and the joy that comes with being in love.

"It honestly feels surreal that this is our second full production during a pandemic," Bellissima founder and "Love/Sick" co-director Nicolette Navarro said. "I think our team has really learned a lot, and really put in the work to keep improving as a company no matter what the circumstances are."

After directing an online socially-distant production of "Spring Awakening" this past September, Navarro wanted to keep the company's momentum rolling with a play during Valentine's Day.

Company members employed tried-and-true Covid safety procedures during the "Love/Sick" production process: Rehearsals are mostly virtual, and in any in-person rehearsals, actors remain masked at all times. During in-person rehearsals, all actors are wellness-screened and perform temperature checks. All actors have agreed to be Covid tested, and scenes are only pairs of people, minimizing exposure overall.

Filming days and in-person rehearsals also only include those in the scenes, with no unnecessary additional people in attendance. During the only scene with intimacy choreography, our company cast two people who are already romantically involved -- They're married.

"I'm extremely grateful to Nicolette as I have learned a lot from her and have really enjoyed being at her side throughout the experience," Love/Sick co-director Devon Bradley said. "It wasn't always easy to figure out the best methods to keep everyone on game as well as safe, but we made it work and are really proud of the result."

Scene content is varied, exploring the lives of multiple couples on the same night. Sarah and Bill sit at home, and Sarah, feeling bored, decides to shake things up a little. But, it's all a bit out of Bill's - or anyone's - comfort zone.

Keith and Celia are just about to get married, but Keith has second thoughts at the altar. When he lays out what he needs, Celia has a bit of an unexpected response, too.

Meanwhile, Ben and Andy have been dating, but when Ben tells Andy how he feels, Andy literally can't hear him.

Full of imperfect lovers and dreamers, this show is an unromantic comedy for the romantic in everyone.

Regular tickets are $15 single or $27 for a pair, meaning that two viewers can watch the show at a discounted rate with one code on ShowTix4U.

The company has also partnered with local businesses Wine on Hertel and Dolly Cakes Cakery to create date night packages. Viewers can reserve either and receive a pair ticket and either a bottle of wine and charcuterie board from Wine on Hertel, or homemade specialty cookies from Dolly Cakes delivered to their home the day of the show.

"I am so excited to be partnering with local businesses for this show," Navarro said. "I go to Wine on Hertel all the time and Dolly Cakes is owned by one of the company members. Everyone is trying to do the best they can during the pandemic and all we can do is support each other."

Available for reservation in limited quantity through ShowTix4U, Wine on Hertel and Dolly Cakes date night packages are priced at $60 and $45 respectively.

"Buffalo is and always will be my family," Wine on Hertel owner Justin Hofschneider said. "It doesn't matter what your business model is, I'll always have your back."

Those on the "Love/Sick" production team are just happy to be keeping the arts alive, in general.

"It means a lot to me to keep theatre alive right now," Bradley said. "It is my greatest passion and has helped me dramatically throughout this time where everything else is uncertain or cancelled. It isn't quite the same as being crammed in a green room or rehearsal space with everyone, but it has been enjoyable nonetheless and has helped me to find some normalcy as well as challenge me to find the best ways to keep doing this."

Navarro echoed Bradley.

"Keeping art alive for me is a necessity, and I think others feel the same," Navarro said. "As people we have to adapt with whatever comes our way, and I turn to art in all situations, so being able to provide that for others is powerful."

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