BWW Review: Fall in Love with NextStop Theatre's AMOUR
In NextStop Theatre's production of Amour, directed by Gloria DuGan, love is in the air. Amour, a musical based on a French fairytale written by Marcel Ayme, might not be known by most hard-core musical fans. It is easy to see how this lesser known musical can become one's favorite, as it is full of wonderfully colorful characters, quirky humor, and catchy tunes. Amour tells the story of Dusoleil (Ryan Khatcheressian), a lonely clerk who pines for a young married woman named Isabelle (Teresa Danskey), and how his life, as well as the lives of others in the town of Montmartre, are changed after he realizes that he can walk through walls. NextStop's production of Amour is a great escape into a world filled with absurdity and whimsy. All and all, it is a perfect pick for a 30th anniversary celebration.
Amour isn't quite a traditional musical, where dialogue is mixed in with long musical numbers. Amour has no spoken dialogue at all, instead moving the plot along entirely with musical numbers and vignettes. Towards the beginning of the show, it does take some getting used to the absence of dialogue between songs. As the musical progresses, one is able to get used to the nonstop flow of one song after another. With all of the singing in this production, the cast of Amour does a spectacular job of maintaining their energy as they work through each number. Large group numbers, such as "Overture", "Waiting," "The Trial," and "Whistling Ballet," highlight the cast's abilities to take on those harmonies and melodies without losing their characters' personalities. When Khatcheressian's Dusoleil and Danskey's Isabelle sing together onstage, on numbers such as "Other People's Stories" and "Special Time of Day," their voices blend together nicely. What makes this production great is the quirkiness of the songs, which often lies in the lyrics and how the cast delivers them. This occurs most often in those group numbers especially during the song, "Whistling Ballet." Here, Dusoleil is having a hard time trying to "take the plunge" with Isabelle, and the various townsfolk try to him convince him that he just needs to go get her before she decides that she isn't interested. Throughout this song, the banter between Dusoleil and the townsfolk are sprinkled with synchronized whistling and choreography, which adds to the levity of the scene. The townsfolk of Montmartre are all equally funny in their own ways. The Whore, played by Molly Hicks Larson, and the Doctor, played by the Todd Huse, make the audience laugh with their impeccable comedic timing, especially in scenes in which they interact with Khatcheressian.
Amour pulls out all the stops in terms of production quality. The love put into it is apparent all around. The set, designed by Jack Golden and painted by Mary Speed, is a brightly colored homage to a French town. From the baguettes in a basket resting in a window to the central cobblestone square, the set's details are done in a way which gives the audience a sense of the town's personality. The music, directed by Blakeman Brophy, is executed with precision. The orchestra is tightly in sync with the cast, and never once does the orchestra overwhelm the cast's voices as they blend seamlessly together during each song.
NextStop Theatre's Amour is a musical worth loving.
Running time: 2 hours with a 15-minute intermission
Amour plays at NextStop Theatre - 269 Sunset Park Drive Herndon, VA - through August 26, 2018.