Thursday, December 4, 2008

Review - I Love My Wife

I Love My Wife
book & lyrics by Michael Stewart; music by Cy Coleman
Starring Jason Alexander, Patrick Cassidy, Lea Thompson, Vicki Lewis
directed by Larry Moss
@ Reprise! - Brentwood Theatre, through December 14

As you experience change, you may not always comprehend what is happening. Understanding the times in which we live comes much later, when we're ready to look back and lighten up. So, as I contemplate the fact that in the late 70s I wasn't head over heels in love with the original New York production of I Love My Wife, I realize that I did not get it- its message that is, nor its novel change of the American musical form.

1977. The sexual revolution was in full blast: crazy, wild, confusing times, to be sure, with people selecting multiple partners, or wife-swapping. Fast forward to 2008, and we have seen it all, a zillion times over, so it can hardly be shocking, except of course to die-hard Christians or moral proods. Whether we agree or disagree with sexual transgression, it seems a natural part of maturing, like teens going through puberty. What a selection of sweets in the candy shoppe! -and in I Love My Wife, Cy Coleman's and Michael Stewart's songs - that include stylings of jazz, pop and country - are quite a mixed bag of goodies. No less curious is the loose structure of the onstage band members becoming characters in the play and parading in, around, and out of the action, to help play out human thoughts, emotions and fantasies via music. Was it ever done before? Never quite like this! No wonder I was baffled.

2008. Seeing this seldom mounted show at Reprise! I was mesmerized and thoroughly entertained by it all, especially by the genius of Coleman and Stewart. What better way to celebrate a diverse community than with an eclectic assortment of tunes!!

This cast under the stellar direction of Larry Moss and great choreography of Lee Martino is 100% atuned to the times - and sizzling! Thompson's opening fantasy seduction of Alexander "Monica" is totally hot, as is her unsettling second act dinner scene "Scream", when she's clad only in her undies and an apron. Lewis' "Love Revolution" rocks, the dance with Cassidy and Thompson at the top of Act II "Lovers On Christmas Eve" is divine - and dig Cassidy's abs; he looks better with silver hair than he did 20 years ago! Alexander milks every second of his second act 'strip' and provides much laughter throughout the evening.

Applause for the band/Greek chorus: Michael Skloff, Chris Ross, Micahel Butler Murray and Louie Allen who keep things consistetnly alive and jivin'.

Who would have guessed that a show that seemed at first glance 'dated' would, on the other hand, improve with age? Well, it has, so to broaden your spectrum of the love experience, go west, my friends, to Brentwood and celebrate Christmas early with Alvin & Cleo, Wally & Monica ... or is it Alvin & Monica, Wally & Cleo?

5 out of 5 stars


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