The new musical “Trip of Love,” now playing at the 42nd St Theater, pays homage to some of the unforgettable hits of the sixties. It would be better described as a musical revue that is extremely well choreographed with lavish costumes and extravagant sets that together create an opulent psychedelic collage. It is neither thought provoking, nor particularly well structured, nor does it attempt to examine in detail a decade filled with dramatic social, cultural and political turmoil. There is no book nor does it credit anyone one for writing one and the presumed attempt to provide a storyline to connect the songs mostly fails with characters remaining unidentifiable except for their names listed in the program.
Now after stating the mandatory critical negatives, this critic can move on and hopefully shed some light onto the elite, jaded, aristocratic opinions of some New York theater goers. “Trip of Love” is fun, entertaining, almost perfectly and professionally executed, and has an incredibly talented cast of singers and dancers with irrepressible talent and energy. It is a fast paced psychedelic musical retrospective of some of the greatest hits of almost every genre from a decade that produced a wide range of music to satisfy every age and preference. Sometimes interpretation of certain musical numbers falters and at other times they are on point, but whatever images and memories the words and music of these familiar songs bring to one’s mind is personal and is enjoyed by each audience member differently. Those who lived through this decade of incredible music know that when you put that 45 rpm vinyl on the turntable and listened, you created your own story and scenario that was your alone.
The cast is indefatigable, exhibiting strong vocal prowess and impressive dance capability for difficult choreography in a vast array of styles. Laurie Wells uses her full rich tonality to intervene the upbeat ensemble numbers with stylized ballads in an almost matronly fashion. Tara Palsha is a vocal powerhouse and Dionne Figgens has irrepressible exuberance as she delivers strong vocals and nails some energetic and intricate choreography. Kelly Felthous gives a great rendition of “Where the Boys Are” even if a bit on the nasal side. “Wipe Out” is almost too much fun for the cast and audience. These are just a few mentions in a cast numbering 19 who are all excellent at their craft.
Although the intent of the direction is questionable, the choreography by James Walski is dynamic utilizing every inch of the stage and complimenting most musical numbers. Costumes by Gregg Barnes are skimpy and delectable revealing quite a bit of the well-toned cast who manage to make countless, speedy changes never missing a beat or cue. For those who think this is purely gratuitous, remember Cher and Bob Mackie along with scantily clad go-go boys in cages? It was a sign of the times. Scenic design by Mr. Walski and Robin Wagner is over the top, opulent, colorful and imaginative.
So yes it may be more Vegas then Broadway but it really shouldn’t matter because it promises you no more or less. What it manages to accomplish, is that you can walk in, sit down, forget about the problems, evil, and destruction we are facing in the world today and be thoroughly entertained by a group of very talented singers, dancers and musicians. As my partner quipped at intermission “this is great eye candy” an audience member in the row in front of us turned and replied “you are right, I love it; it has something for everyone!” Do yourself a favor and take heed of the lyrics of a song from a different decade, “forget your troubles, c’mon get happy” as you enjoy the journey of “Trip of Love”.
TRIP OF LOVE
“Trip of Love” is directed and choreographed by James Walski and features scenic design by Robin Wagner, and costume design by Gregg Barnes. “Trip of Love” is produced by Makoto Deguchi and had its world premiere in April of 2008 at the Theatre Brava! in Osaka, Japan.
“Trip of Love” stars Joey Calveri, David Elder, Kelly Felthous, Dionne Figgins, Austin Miller, Tara Palsha, and Laurie Wells with Yesenia Ayala, Colin Bradbury, Bo Broadwell, Kyle Brown, Whitney Cooper, Alexa De Barr, Daniel Lynn Evans, Lisa Finegold, Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, Steve Geary, Daryl Getman, Jennifer Gruener, Brandon Leffler, Peter Nelson, Kristin Piro, and Nicky Venditti. Production photos are by Matthew Murphy.
All performances of “Trip of Love “are at Stage 42, formerly The Little Shubert Theater (422 West 42nd Street). For performance schedule and to purchase tickets, please visit http://tripoflove.com and https://www.telecharge.com/Off-Broadway/Trip-of-Love/Overview. Running time is 2 hours with one intermission.