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Living on Love
a Comedy
by Joe DiPietro

COMPANY : Stage Door Players [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Stage Door Players [WEBSITE]
ID# 5279

SHOWING : May 18, 2018 - June 10, 2018



When a demanding diva discovers that her larger-than-life maestro husband has become enamored with the lovely young lady hired to ghostwrite his largely fictional autobiography, she hires a handsome young scribe of her own. Sparks fly, silverware is thrown, and romance blossoms in the most unexpected ways in this delightful and hilarious romantic comedy.

Director Robert Egizio
Iris Peabody Lauren Boyd
Bruce George Deavours
Vito DeAngelis Michael Strauss
Raquel DeAngelis Denise Whelan
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Lend Me "Lend Me a Tenor"
by playgoer
Monday, May 21, 2018
Think Ken Ludwig has a lock on opera-based comedies like "Lend Me a Tenor" and "A Comedy of Tenors?" Nope. Joe DiPietro has horned in on this territory with "Living on Love," which uses a situation and a selection of characters reminiscent of Ludwig’s farces, but produces something far less rollicking and entertaining.

The action takes place in a Manhattan penthouse in 1957, and the physical production is glorious. Chuck Welcome’s set design drips with elegance from two lovely light fixtures, the arches and columns and furnishings all bespeaking a refined taste. Jim Alford’s costumes continue the upscale look, and J.D. Williams’ lighting design makes every moment look ravishing. The contributions of the Ellsworths are equally fine, with Rial’s sound design combining music and crash noises with flawless precision and Kathy’s collection of a hundred or so snow globes impressing as much as the foodstuffs that the script requires to be used on hair and body (but luckily not on the wigs provided by George Deavours!).

Robert Egizio has directed the play with lots of comic bits that would probably fare better in a larger theater than Stage Door Players’ intimate space in Dunwoody. The play starts with the procrastinating Maestro (Michael Strauss) battling the ghostwriter of his autobiography (Roger Payano), and both performances seem artificially big. George Deavours and Stuart Schleuse, as a Mutt-and-Jeff pair of servants, give deadpan unison responses that also smack of theatrical artificiality. It’s only when the women appear that the action gains a veneer of believable human behavior. Denise Whelan is superb as the Diva, wife of the Maestro, whose operatic career is on the downswing, and Lauren Boyd Lane makes her junior assistant editor-turned-ghostwriter character a lovable innocent with decidedly surprising quirks.

The plot sets up a battling pair of spouses and a battling pair of ghostwriters, with romantic attractions inside and between the two pairs at the heart of the plot, with a little same-sex discovery thrown in at the end. It all ends as it should, of course, with the married couple rediscovering their love. For a fairly straightforward plot like this, it’s the journey rather than the plot that has to maintain interest, and the characters’ journeys just aren’t that interesting.

For a show centered on opera, it’s a bit disconcerting that "Mio babbino caro" comes across as "Mio bambino caro" and that the wrong syllables are stressed when "che gelida manina" is spoken. Marianne Fraulo is thanked by Mr. Strauss in his biography for help with Italian pronunciation, and Stuart Schleuse is credited as "Opera Consultant," but Mr. Strauss’ good Italian accent doesn’t seem to have propagated itself to all the Italian used in the show.

Joe DiPietro has written a number of widely popular plays and musicals. This isn’t one of them. "Living on Love" played on Broadway a few years ago, opening just before the Tony nominations and closing just after, empty-handed. The highly derivative nature of the plot seems aimed at the lowest common denominator of entertainment, and as palatably mindless fare it succeeds. As an engrossing evening of theatrical thrills, chills, and spills, it doesn’t. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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