Theater Review: ‘Love’ stories entirely in song at The Pines
“They say that breaking up is hard to do,” but not when it’s done to music in the Pines Dinner Theater production of “Love is a Many Splintered Thing.”
Packed with four decades of Top-40 hit songs from Neil Diamond and Cher to Elton John and Gloria Estefan, not a word was spoken by the cast the entire evening. Instead, the story of six friends and their romantic relationships from high school to adulthood is told entirely through the lyrics they sing.
The engaging plot was created by Dorothy Maric, playwright of “Respect,” a similar type of musical that examines women’s role in American popular music. “Love is a Many Splintered Thing” is remarkable for its ability to blend the lyrics of literally dozens of songs from different eras into a meaningful storyline. The music arrangements are by Hinton Battle,
The daunting task of telling that story entirely through song fell on The Pine’s cast of three male and three female actor-singers, who are the first to perform the musical on stage in its Lehigh Valley premiere. Until The Pines’ production, the show was presented in workshops and readings.
During the Feb. 23 performance, seen for this review, the ensemble of spirited players kept the pace going from the openers “Love is in the Air” and “The Look of Love,” through the pains of break up with “She’s Out of My Life,” and back to “Love is in the Air.”
Ken Quiricone was perfect at portraying the many facets of the shy nerdy Yale, showing him as a sympathetic character suffering from unrequited love (“I think I Love You,”), while also ably projecting a humorous side. Quiricone had one of the best controlled singing voices in the ensemble.
The sweet-talking, marriage-shy Bill was ably played by Patrick Voss Davis, who has a wonderfully strong singing voice. Among his best numbers were “The Wanderer” and “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me.”
Together with Kyle A. Jack as Sean, the loyal friend who marries his true love (“Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing, Baby”), the guys were great singing together (“Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind”).
The love object of Yale and Bill is Hope, played by Lisa Sims. She has a lovely voice, showcased well in “Wedding Bell Blues” and “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” Ashley Perkins was very personable as Roberta, Sean’s wife, with a powerful voice to match. She was memorable singing her warning to Hope (“Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer”).
Meg Stefanowicz has a nice stage presence and her portrayal of the seductress Desiree is first-rate.
Director Oliver Blatt’s black and white costuming that varies in patterns from scene to scene was impressive. He provided a colorful surprise in the last scene.
As always, Stacy Bechtel did an amazing job as music director, sound mixer and multi-instrumentalist.
The show’s run concluded March 25.