Book, music & lyrics by Marc Castle
Directed by Igor Goldin
Musical Direction by Phillip Kirchman
Produced by Tzipora Kaplan in association with Katherine Heberling (www.loveincmusical.com)
International Theatre Festival (www.midtownfestival.org)
Equity Showcase (through August 10, 2008)
Review by Charles Battersby
Love, Incorporated is just what an audience would want from an off-off Broadway musical comedy; it’s genuinely amusing, solidly-produced, and its small cast & band are perfectly suited to a small venue.
Faith Stillman (Jennifer Blood) is a brainy dork who is great at her job as a businesswoman, but terrible with men. Her hot pal Aura (Hollis Scarborough) is terrific at attracting men, but can’t hold onto a job. When Aura gets fired at the same time that Faith discovers her dream man…well, it’s pretty obvious that the two are going to concoct a zany scheme to combine their talents in order to get Aura a job, while simultaneously helping Faith ensnare a man.
Together they create a company whose sole purpose is to help Faith transform herself into the perfect woman for her targeted man, Casey (Jonathan Rayson). The two gals hire an out-of-work actor, Landon (Tally Sessions) to befriend Casey and slowly steer him towards Faith, while Faith befriends Casey’s ex-girlfriend (also played by Scarborough), and tries to keep them from getting back together. Over the course of the show, there are numerous crazy capers and madcap hijinks, all of which lead to a crisis of faith (pun obviously intended by the book writer) as Faith realizes that Casey has only fallen for the woman he thinks she is - not the woman she really is.
Yes, this musical comedy’s set up is rather predictable - in many, MANY ways - but the whole shebang is still very well crafted and soundly structured. Even though it’s pretty obvious where the whole thing heading right from the first scene, Marc Castle’s book still holds together, his music is catchy, the performances are top notch, and Igor Goldin’s direction gets laughs even when the punch lines are telegraphed ahead.
Tony Zimbardi’s set design shows a good understanding of the minimalist design needed for a summer festival where all the productions are sharing the same space. The live band is kept in plain sight upstage, visible above a simple set intended to look like the New York City skyline - or with the addition of a deliberately cheesy Eiffel Tower - Paris. Two multi-purpose flats make up the bulk of the sets, and are used to conceal the cast for costume changes.
And the cast does make lots of costume changes (designed by Hunter Kaczorowski) - Scarborough and Sessions play multiple roles with changes occurring at a quick pace - and high praise to Sessions for getting plenty of laughs out of his clichéd French waiter character.
An audience’s response to Love, Incorporated will depend on whether or not they demand innovation from a musical comedy. There’s honestly nothing new to see here, but the cast, directors, writer and the producing team of Tzipora Kaplan & Katherine Heberling have presented a classic formula in a solid, polished package.
Copyright 2008 by Charles Battersby
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