Los Angeles Theater Preview: AMOUR (Musical Theatre West in Long Beach)

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by Tony Frankel on February 28, 2017

in Theater-Los Angeles


“I wanted to write an opera-bouffe, an intimate evening with light, lyrical singing and delicate charm,” wrote composer Michel Legrand. “Marcel Aymé’s delightful story of an ordinary little man who suddenly finds himself gifted with extraordinary powers seemed to be the perfect material for such an amusement.”

Perhaps too intimate for theatergoers expecting big splashy musicals, Amour, written by Legrand (the composer of Yentl) and Jeremy Sams (the librettist of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), opened on Broadway on October 20, 2002, at the Music Box Theatre and closed after only 31 previews and 17 performances. (The original French libretto by Didier van Cauwelaert was adapted from Aymé’s Le Passe-Muraille.)

Set in 1950s Paris, this sweeping, romantic, fantastical fairy tale for grownups concerns a nobody, a shy unassuming civil servant, who suddenly discovers he has the uncanny ability to walk through walls. With this magical discovery, he finally summons the courage to confess his feelings to his beautiful love-from-afar. Meanwhile, her husband has different plans for him. But how do you lock up a man who can simply slip away?

I found out about this musical when Ghostlight Records recorded the CD. Starring Malcolm Gets and Melissa Errico, this completely sung-through love story is a whimsical tale that absolutely buoys my spirits whenever I hear it. There have been two “re-conceived” productions, but it looked as if Amour would forever be one of those musicals we never get to see. Until now.

Musical Theatre West will present the sung-through confection for one night only, Sunday, March 12 at 7:00 at the Beverly O’Neill Theatre, as part of its Reiner Reading Series. Don’t miss this! The score is amazing. Academy Award-winner Legrand has always had a penchant for jazz waltzes; he is known for his haunting melodies from the film scores for Summer of ’42, The Thomas Crown Affair and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. There are plenty of lush, jazzy harmonies and passages, but there is no shortage of lovely trademark Legrandian waltzes—among the standouts in the Amour score is the sweet lament, “Other People’s Stories,” sung by the lonely wife.

I can understand why you would hear about a “Staged Reading” and want to bolt in the opposite direction. Don’t let that title fool you; Indeed, in the last year, some of the best nights in the theater have been found at these events. This is especially true of MTW’s Reiner Staged Reading Series, which offers these one-night only concerts of rarely-seen musicals with movement, astounding performers, and a full live orchestra provided by Los Angeles Musicians Collective. You won’t even notice the lack of sets, the minimal costumes, or the fact that scripts are in hand for the dialogue (an Equity rule).

MTW’s concerts have been consistently enjoyable, and Amour will be no exception. And the tickets are only 27 bucks, so there’s no excuse to miss this gem. And take note of the new location this season–the Beverly O’Neill Theatre on Ocean Blvd. at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center. Also note the EARLY START TIME of 7:00pm.

Amour stars:
(MTW: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast; Regional: Grey Gardens)
(Regional: The Drowsy ChaperoneSondheim on Sondheim)
TRACY ROWE MUTZ as Claire/The Whore
(RRS: Li’l AbnerOn the Twentieth Century; Regional: The Addams Family)
WILLIAM MARTINEZ as The Boss/2nd Policeman
(RRS: The Secret Garden, Kismet; Regional: Signing the Song)
BRYAN DOBSON as The Doctor/The President/1st Policeman
(RRS: Li’l Abner, She Loves Me; MTW: Evita; Regional: 1776)
JEFFREY LANDMAN as Bertrand/News Vendor/Advocate/The Prison Director
(RRS: The Boys from Syracuse; MTW: Young Frankenstein)
ZACHARY FORD as The Painter/Charles
(RRS: She Loves Me, The Secret Garden; MTW: Evita)
ROBERT YACKO as The Prosecutor
(RRS: Where’s Charley?, Regional: The Addams Family)
(RRS: Carnival, Li’l Abner, Regional: Bonnie & Clyde)
Musical Direction by JULIE LAMOUREUX
Musical Theatre West
part of the Reiner Staged Reading Series
produced by Michael Betts and David Lamoureux
Beverly O’Neill Theatre at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center
300 East Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach (parking is at 330 East Seaside Way)
Sunday, March 12 at 7:00
For tickets (only 27 bucks!), call 562.856.1999 ext. 4 or visit MTW.

{ 1 comment }

Michael M. Landman-Karny March 11, 2017 at 2:35 pm

Despite closing after 17 regular performance, the show received 5 nominations. It is a delightful chamber operetta that will be a perfect fit for the Beverly O’Neill Theatre.

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