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Review - For Lovers Only (Love Songs... Nothing But Love Songs): Back Off, Haters

Two possibilities crossed my mind when I counted 85 selections on the song list for For Lovers Only (Love Songs... Nothing But Love Songs); either I was about to see a musical revue of Götterdämmerung-like proportions or there were going to be a lot of medleys.

Medleys won out. In fact, by the time the five talented singers reached their first applause break, less than ten minutes into the first act, I had already heard snippets of "True Love," "Love Is A Many Splendored Thing," "Love Is In The Air," "Love Makes The World Go Round," "Almost Like Being In Love," "Till There Was You," and "People Will Say We're in Love."

Fortunately, creators Christopher Scott (who directs and choreographs) and Ken Lundie (music director and pianist) deliver something a bit cleverer than just a catalogue evening of American Songbook classics. Working from a concept by Nancy Friday, Scott and Lundie present a series of medleys (one or two lines from one song, 16 bars of another, an occasional full chorus) that substitute for dialogue in acting out the simple story of five strangers who meet in a bar (Peter R. Feuchtwanger's modest set resembles a piano lounge) and the romantic escapades (99.9% hetero) that ensue.

Initial meetings and pickup lines come in the form of "Always," "It Had To Be You," "Make Believe" and other old-fashioned love songs. The morning after the first time inspires renditions of "You Do Something To Me," "That Old Black Magic," and "I've Got You Under My Skin." A dateless night alone watching a classic movie on television has the Lovers singing along to "Moon River," "Secret Love," "Misty," and "Time After Time." I won't reveal exactly where the plot goes, but let's just say songs like, "Falling In Love With Love," "If You Hadn't But You Did" and even "Call Block Tango" start entering the picture.

If there's a hitch to the concept it's that the cast rarely gets a chance to truly sink their teeth into the material and the show becomes more about attractive voices singing familiar melodies, rather than displaying the musical acting that can make emotional monologues like "Being Alive" soar and comic masterpieces like "I Hate Men" triumph. But the quick shifts from song to song to style to style are amusing (a pairing of "This Nearly Was Mine" and "Some Enchanted Evening" leads to the familiar vamp that introduces "Seasons of Love") and while For Lovers Only never really gets deep, the evening is perfectly pleasant.

If anyone does get the opportunity to stand out, it's elegant mezzo Dominique Plaisant, who switches from traditional soprano tones for "Make Believe" and "Till There Was You" to deep, bluesy grit for "Do Right Woman" and a lovely, clear stillness for "The Rose." Monica L. Patton's light, r&b vocals sound great when she's vamping through "Witchcraft," and her exuberance in the difficult "I Got Love" is a pleasure to watch. While cabaret-style belter Trisha Rapier's rendition of "My Man" owes more to Barbra Streisand's phrasing than to the James Hanley/Gene Buck melody, she sings it with engaging conviction. She also has a couple of charming moments with Lundie, singing "I Honestly Love You" while leaning over his piano as the accompanist counters with "Just The Way You Are," and later on sharing a soft-shoe with "You and Me."

Kevin Vortmann gives a fun, supper club styling to "Just In Time" and playfully rocks out to "Why Do Fools Fall In Love," while Glenn Seven Allen's traditional Broadway baritone lends richness to "Kiss Her Now" and "This Nearly Was Mine."

For Lovers Only may not supply the kind of grand romance its title suggests, but it's light and appealing and not bad for a summer fling.

Photo by Carol Rosegg: (standing) Monica L. Patton, Kevin Vortmann, Trisha Rapier and Glenn Seven Allen; (seated) Ken Lundie and Dominique Plaisant.


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From This Author Kristin Salaky