Review: R-S Theatrics - 'Love? Actually'

Erin Karll

  • OnStage Missouri Critic

R-S Theatrics latest production is an evening of unrequited love. The night is split into three acts, each lasting around 25 minutes.

First the cast is introduced and names with cabaret titles are selected from a bowl. These winners become the cabaret acts for the first section. Since the drawing is random each night is a completely different experience. The audience this evening was treated to a wonderful selection of songs from Phil Leveling, duets by Natasha Toro with Kelvin Urday and Linday Rae Gingrich with Sarajane Alverson, and a full group performance. The selection was heavily influenced by Lin-Manuel Miranda, which set the tone for a great show. Toro’s and Urday’s duet was ‘Champagne’ from ‘In the Heights’ which R-S Theatrics recently announced plans to produce next season. The group number started with a wonderful comic monologue that had me laughing and missing my practicum at the Arch, and finished with a wonderful cover from ‘Hamilton’. This was a great way to meet the cast. The diversity of the group and the talent was on display and excited me for the rest of the acts.

The second part is the opera by Steven Serpa ‘Thyrsis and Amaranth’. Set after a wedding Thyrsis (Gingrich) and Amaranth (Eileen Engel) emerge from the party and the story of unrequited love begins. Gingrich and Engel had sweet chemistry. As the story progressed with clever background acting from the other members of the cast, words are left unspoken and heartbreak is everywhere. Gingrich is relatable and makes a strong connection with her character. Engel’s voice shines brightly and gives her ‘Amaranth’ an extra pinch of innocence.

The third part is the musical ’21 Chump Street’ written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. I am a fan of this show after hearing it on NPR when it first aired. This production was simply staged with charming choreography (Taylor Pietz). Leah Luciano (Musical Director/Pianist) leads an amazing group of musicians. The story of Justin’s (Urday) and Naomi’s (Toro) unrequited love stems from an undercover drug sting in a Florida High School. Miranda’s word play is always a treat to hear, and you can tell the cast is having a great time telling this story. I will confess that I listen to my cast recording of this show often, and the choices that Toro and company made had me pleasantly surprised.

Over all the show is short and sweet night at the theatre that will defiantly leave you thinking of the special someone that may have gotten away.  ‘Love? Actually’ runs at the Westport Playhouse until September 18th Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. For ticket and show details check out