Sunday, April 19, 2015

Living on Love @ The Longacre Theatre

 There are obviously funny shows on Broadway all the time. And there are some that like have laughs from start to finish. Living On Love is one of those shows-there were laughs galore from the opening announcement to turn off your cell phones (in a pseudo-Italian English) all the way to the final bows.

Living on Love is a screwball comedy set in the penthouse of “El Maestro” Vito De Angelis (Douglas Sills) and “La Diva” Raquel De Angelis (Renée Fleming) and chronicles the dramatic turns as two highly overdramatic people attempt to outdo each other and each write an auto-biography, which is really written by two ghost writers, Robert Samson (Jerry O’Connell) and Iris Peabody (Anna Chlumsky). Hijinks, thrown cutlery, and fabulous music occur at every hilarious turn.
One of the most pleasant surprises of the show is just how dang funny Flemming is as Raquel. She has one of the greatest voices on the planet, which is shown off to lovely effect and got applause practically every time she sang one stunningly beautiful note. But Flemming’s comic timing is also superb. She is well adept at the overly dramatic moments, which stem from the larger than life opera world, she comes from but was also poignant in the quieter moments that she shared, particularly the striking moment where Raquel explains exactly why opera is better than real life.

Sills as Vito fully matches up to the dramatics needed for the Maestro and is a master of physical comedy and wonderfully quippy one-liners. He also has some lovely quieter moments shared with his wife of 35 years and when discussing the music that has so shaped his More down to earth, but no less hilarious are the “straight men” of the show, writer Robert Samson and editor/accidental writer Iris Peabody. Movie star Jerry O’Connell deftly plays the neurotic high-energy Robert who melts at the feet of “La Diva.” Chlumsky’s wide-eyed portrayal of the ambitious Iris is a breath of fresh air 1/3 of the way into the show and simultaneously grounds the plot, and yet sparks even more hijinks along the way.

In a show with such high-energy, over-the-top characters andsituations, it’s hard to pick out one particular scene stealer. In this case, there’s two: the long-suffering servants of the De Angelis’, Bruce (Blake Hammond) and Eric (Scott Robertson). Every time they would enter the scene, it would be delightful, especially during their high energy set resets, particularly one featuring some excellent four-hand piano playing.

Living on Love is deftly directed by Kathleen Marshall, with the quips and physical comedy moving seamlessly almost like a dance. Or just like an amazing opera. The opulent scenic design by Derek McLane pairs wonderfully with the lavish costumes by Michael Krass. You never want to blink while watching this show for fear of missing out on another gorgeous treat for the eyes or simply for another laugh.

For a barrel of laughs mixed with some amazing music, go see Living on Love at the Longacre Theatre. This is definitely not one to miss. Living on Love opened on April 20th and will remain on the stage for a limited engagement so don't wait, buy your tickets here!

Review by Chrissy Cody
Photos by Andrew Eccles

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