BWW Review: Now is the Perfect Time to Fall in Love with LOVE ACTUALLY?
Well, is there really a perfect time to fall in love? How do we even know what love is, what we should do when we stumble upon it and how do we not to mess it up for the sake of our future happiness and sanity? Love [actually] comes in so many forms, with as many immoral turns as there are possibilities of getting to be with the person your heart (or hormones) tells you is "the one." The idea of love is complicated (to say the least), questioning how many different ways an ideal form of happiness can be found.
Take the 2003 movie Love, Actually,"where almost every recognizable English actor of this century comes together to discover how they can take the complete messes that are their lives and make things even more complicated by falling in love. Now, take this rather somber collection of romantic tales and bring out its potential for comedy by adding catchy songs and clever references.
Well, if this is what you've always dreamed of, you're in luck.
Love Actually?: The Unauthorized Musical Parody is the hilarious new show by Bob and Tobly McSmith, now in performances at the Jerry Orbach Theater. Bob and Tobly met while applying for a job at Dippin' Dots and fortunately weren't hired; they instead went on to bring forth such productions as Friends! The Musical Parody and Full House! The Musical (starring Perez Hilton). Now, they can be credited with yet another success in the form of Love Actually?, which takes the characters from Richard Curtis' original film and, under the direction of Tim Drucker, gives them a bit more flare than would have otherwise been deemed appropriate.
How much more fun their intertwined plots have now become in this hilarious staged production, presented by Right Angle Entertainment for a limited engagement in the heart of Times Square. Following in the movie's footsteps of embodying the Christmas spirit, Love Actually? does just that by putting audiences in a joyous mood...and who wouldn't be, if Professor Snape showed up to the office holiday party and is truly up to no good.
Set in the early 2000's, Love, Actually follows the lives of different people as they navigate their way through the trappings of love. A father and son grieve over a sudden loss, and a married man falls for the young seductress in his office. Another man moves to American because of his sex appeal and need for something new, while another is in love with his best friend's new bride. This is just a taste of the many subplots happening at once, all tied together in a slightly confusing way - now made quite comical with the amazing new input of Love Actually?. Each actor plays a variety of characters, constantly switching and keeping up with the show's momentum as they introduce those we remember from the movie... but not in the same recognizable way.
For example, how funny it is when Hugh Grant breaks into song about being the king of romcoms, while Alan Rickman's character turns into Professor Snape and uses some magic on his young employee who clearly has some daddy issues? Liam Neeson doesn't know how to help his troubled son unless he is in danger of being kidnapped, and Laura Linney floats around stage, not quite knowing what to do with herself. So many subplots, all perfectly combined to create this hilarious musical - a show which proves to the audience (at least to the packed and highly entertained house I was a part of) the joy to be found in pure comedy - that there are still some great things to laugh at in this world, this time brought to us by the creative genius of the McSmith duo.
Halfway through the show, and after professing to my guest that I didn't have an idea of what the original movie was about, I realized that I was wrong. I did see at least parts of this movie, but Love Actually? made the entire experience about ten times better. Each actor played quite a few characters, capturing the essence of an entire movie with only six people on stage; it's quite surprising when you see such a small group take their bows at the show's end. They create such a wonderful cast of characters, it's hard not to fall in love with everyone. With their combined acting and musical talents, it is their sole business to make the audience laugh...all the while being sure not to take themselves too seriously.
Kudos must go to all those involved: Kayla Catan, Meg Halcovage, Daniel Hayward, James Parks, Eric Peters, Thanos Scouters, Jonah Spangler and Tony Tillman come together to make this musical one hell of a good time (even if you think you've never seen the movie, but probably have). Credit also goes to Basil Winterbottom (music and orchestrations), Ryan Howell (scenic/prop design), Dustin Cross (costume/wig design), Matthew Fischer (sound design), Weston G. Wentzel (lighting design), Brooke Engen (choreographer) and Curtis Reynolds (music director).
If you're looking for a musical that has some catchy numbers, a great cast and is sure to have you laughing throughout, definitely buy a ticket for Love Actually at the Jerry Orbach Theater (located at 210 West 50th Street). Tickets start at $35 and can be purchased by clicking here. The performance schedule changes, so please click here to find the most up-to-date information. There is a cash bar available for drinks before the show, and also an elevator on site.
Enjoy the show!
Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel