by Peter New
Waterfront Theatre, Granville Island
February 14-27

Musical theatre has been one of the brightest of many bright spots on the city’s theatrical horizon over the past few years. Despite the Playhouse’s decision to eliminate its annual musical for budgetary reasons, the Arts Club, TUTS, and smaller companies like Ophidian and Uncle Randy have given local audiences a lot to sing about. With so much musical talent around, it must be a great temptation, at a time of the year when no other musicals are being staged, for people to put together an Equity Co-op and do their own singin‘ and dancin‘. And since I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change was so successful, why not try to replicate it?

With a script from sketch comedy veteran Peter New, Speaking of Love throws together 22 songs from a variety of sources, prefaces each one with a skit about relationships, and prefaces each skit with self-help advice from a smarmy talk show host modelled on Dr. Phil (played by New)--how, for example, to “go from longing to be-longing.” Sara-Jeanne Hosie, Matt Palmer, Tracey Powers and Scott Walters are the attractive performers. Musical director Seana-Lee Wood accompanies them on piano.

As much talent as there is on that stage, I just can’t find much good to say about this show. The skits are unfunny, the songs and music mostly undistinguished, and the Dr. Hartman segments are painfully slow and self-defeatingly cynical. His character is written and played as a parody of pop culture and pop psychology at their worst, yet he introduces each of the skits and songs about love. What’s the message here? To make matters worse, director Barbara Tomasic seems to have invited everyone to overact each character as broadly as possible. It’s like all Fanny Brice all the time. Every so often the strength of a voice or a clever dance routine is a reminder of what these folks are capable of. But this is not the vehicle to showcase their strengths.

Jerry Wasserman



last updated: Monday, February 21, 2005 2:18 PM
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