You’ve got your visual humor when Robert (Sean Baldwin) loses his shirt and covers up his nipples with his tie and when diva Raquel (Pat Brady) enters as Aida, holding her dog, Puccini (Ozzie), similarly dressed. You’ve got your silly fractured English, courtesy of Italian maestro Vito (Jack Fallon). You’ve got your innocent ingénue, Iris (Allison Tebbano), coming undone by a couple of snorts of gin. Add marital strife played out in public; plenty of one-liners; a charming plot twist in Act II, featuring butlers Eric (Lonnie Honsinger) and Bruce (Pat Leathem), and — voila! — you have “Living on Love.”
From a script by Garson Kanin, playwright Joe DiPietro keeps the laughs coming, and director Patrick White’s ensemble confidently dishes them out.
It’s 1957 in the upscale Manhattan apartment of aging Vito and Raquel, both of whom are slipping professionally while others (like Callas and Bernstein) pass them by. Raquel may even have to take a gig in Schenectady!
Living on Love
WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, 210 Old Loudon Road, Latham
WHEN: Thurs.-Sun., through April 30
HOW MUCH: $24
MORE INFO: 877.7529, or curtaincalltheatre.com
For ready cash, they contract to write their memoirs. Young ghost writers Robert and Iris try to get Vito and Raquel to concentrate on the book projects, but, oh, those temperamental artists! Shenanigans ensue, including the littering of the stage with pages from a manuscript, but, ultimately, true love reigns.
I have a few reservations about the production. Because music is so integral to the story, the live singing must be credible. It fell short on Friday. The relationship between Vito and Raquel is monochromatic; I’d imagine that, after 30 years, they’d be different with each other when alone than they are when others are around, but we don’t get that distinction here. Finally, it’s distracting to have Ozzie walking around on stage, unsupervised, breaking the fourth wall with his precious gaze.
No reservations about the set (Connor Munion), lighting (Lily Fossner), sound (Ann Warren), or costumes (Beth Ruman). The performers are well served by the choices of these pros, assistant director Amy Lane, stage manager Amanda Brinke, and, of course, the estimable White.
The cast is energetic. Honsinger’s eyes twinkle, like those of a knowing servant in a comic opera. Leathem has the amusing gravitas of Carson on “Downton Abbey.” Brady’s self-dramatizing diva is very funny, the look in her eyes sometimes suggesting that she’s off in a la-la land where she is the only resident. And Fallon’s rumpled maestro alternately swaggers and stumbles, much to our delight.
Baldwin superbly captures the earnestness of a young writer hoping to do a good job, but soon settling for getting out of the situation alive. And Tebbano — with pitch-perfect timing and spot-on reactions — makes the sweet Iris both hapless and sturdy. Both Baldwin and Tebbano are making their CC debuts here; let’s see more of them.
The audience on opening night ate up this confection as heartily as they enjoyed the complimentary pastries at intermission.