Bob Goepfert Reviews "Living On Love" At Curtain Call Theatre
“Living on Love,” a shallow comedy playing at Curtain Call Theatre in Latham through April 30, is a guilty pleasure that, thanks to the work of a very likeable cast, you can enjoy without any morning-after guilt.
It’s a crowd-pleaser that deals with a married power-couple who each have insufferable egos. He is a major symphony conductor and she’s a world-famous opera star. Both are past their prime and a lack of income is infringing on their lavish lifestyle.
To generate needed income the Italian-born conductor agrees to let what he calls “a spooky helper” ghost write his biography. He finally settles on a collaborator who happens to be an attractive young woman who is susceptible to his charm. As the pair always does, she one-ups her husband and hires his young male former “spooky helper” to write her biography. He’s equally as star-stuck in his admiration for his subject.
If you need more information about what will happen as the innocent young duo gets pulled into the older couple’s web of dysfunction, you’ve never been to a dinner theater or rarely watch television.
Since the plot is so predictable, the fun in the play is dependent on the strength of the performers to make something of their stock characters.
Playing Vito, the egomaniacal conductor who has never met a woman he won’t try to seduce, Jack Fallon’s robust performance coverts the man’s arrogance into over-the-top humor. He often comes close to overdoing the portrayal, but is never less than funny.
As the opera diva Raquel, Pat Brady is less bombastic and uses her fine sense of comic timing to make her barbs and the character funny. When she fears that age is converting her natural soprano into a mezzo-soprano her show of operatic elitism is a delight. When she announces her small town tour of the United States, she sarcastically wonders if people even sing in Schenectady.
It’s difficult to accept Fallon or Brady as either a famous conductor or an opera star and the little singing in the production doesn’t help. Too their contrasting performance styles cause problems in that Brady is less funny without Fallon on stage and without Fallon having an equal to match his energy his antics tend to become tiresome in the second act.
However, the leads are less dominant in the second act as the play becomes about the two young writers maturing, falling in love and coming to their senses about their employers. It’s a nice change that gives the play some heart.
Sean Baldwin is a comfortable, almost endearing presence as Robert, the insecure awkward writer who is writing what he hopes is the great American novel which he nerdishly titles “The Great American Novel.”
Allison Tebbano is impressive as she makes her area stage debut playing Iris the naïve young woman who falls for Vito’s bragging and his rendition of “Bolero.” She is both sincere and comic as she creates an adorable character.
Pat Leathem and Lonnie Honsinger play a pair of servants who make scene changes worth watching and have a sweet comical moment of assertiveness at the end of the play. Honsinger’s look when he retrieves a bell after that moment gets one of the biggest laughs of the night.
The biggest laugh goes to costume designer Beth Ruman’s creation of a twin Aida costume for Raquel and her remarkably well-behaved dog. However, Director Patrick White ignores the rules about dogs and babies stealing scenes as he permits the animal to wander the stage and distract the audience.
It’s all played on a functional open set by Connor Munion. But one has to wonder if the spaciousness of the design was on purpose or the result of Fallon chewing the scenery during the rehearsal process.
Throughout the two hour production, White directs the action with a fast pace that permits a talented cast to make a generic piece of theater an enjoyable night out.
“Living on Love,” Curtain Call Theatre, Latham. Performances Thursdays to Sunday, through April 30. 877-7529.
Bob Goepfert is the arts editor for the Troy Record.
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