BWW Review: THE LAST ROMANCE at Stage Left Productions
According to the program, "A crush can make anyone feel young again-even a widower named Ralph. On an ordinary day in a routine life, Ralph decides to take a different path on his daily walk-one that leads him to an unexpected second chance at love. Relying on a renewed boyish charm, Ralph attempts to woo the elegant, but distant, Carol. Defying Carol's reticence-and his lonely sister's jealousy-Ralph embarks on the trip of a lifetime, and regains a happiness that seemed all but lost. THE LAST ROMANCE is a heart-warming comedy about the transformative power of love."Heart-warming, indeed. It's in the writing, yes, but it's the great acting, deft direction and excellent production values that takes this production the distance.
Cody Dull's direction is elegant and unpretentious. He manages to use the entire playing space without forcing it. The pace and dynamics are exquisite.
Equity Guest Artist, Mathew Zimmerer, plays Ralph with masterful noblesse. It's a virtuosic role requiring heavy-duty actor chops and a flash of spectacular operatic tenor. Zimmerer's performance is triumphant, and all the moreso because he is playing 25 years beyond his age. He is marvelous.
As Carol Reynolds, Marie Crossley is the definition of grace. She is lovely, wistful and entirely convincing. More than once, this critic wanted to run up on stage and give her a hug, so authentic was her vulnerability.
Debra Lyman effortlessly plays Ralph's sister Rose with her unique, earthy rhythms and profoundly resonant voice. She is delightful as she navigates the many dimensions of the most interesting character in the show.
As the "Young Man," Charlie Gray provides an unique device as bookends and between the scenes musical stage presence. He is the young Ralph and fills the opening and closing of the show, scene changes and a solo scene of his own with snippets of Leoncavallo's "Pagliacci" and Mozart's "Cosi fan Tutte." Gray has a lovely voice and is in every respect credible as a Metropolitan Opera hopeful.
Lynne Puck's costumes and Leroy Timblin's set are gorgeous. Cliff Williams' sound design is fully a fifth character in the play and is just right.
THE LAST ROMANCE runs for two more weekends in their beautiful, intimate space with a stylish lobby and lavatories. Accessible, comfortable and right next door to a restaurant. The show runs through March 7th, though both the closing matinee and evening show are sold out. Best grab some tickets to the remaining Friday, Saturday and Sunday shows!Tickets and info: www.stageleftaz.com
photos courtesy of Stage Left Productions.