Love conquers some
Triumph of Love
Book by James Magruder
Music by Jeffrey Stock
Lyrics by Susan Birkenhead
Directed by Brian Swasey
Produced by the
The Broccoli Theatre
Variety Boys & Girls Club of
Equity showcase (Closed)
Review by Byrne Harrison
Having never read the Marivaux play upon which Triumph of Love is based, it's hard to say if the musical version is any better than the original, given the formulaic nature of many Restoration comedies. Triumph of Love, with book by James Magruder, music by Jeffrey Stock, and lyrics by Susan Birkenhead is enjoyable, if unremarkable. The book is amusing, but the characters are fairly two-dimensional and the wordplay, which trends toward naughty puns, seems forced. The music and lyrics are good, though it feels as though Stock and Birkenhead were writing an homage to their musical theatre forefathers (here's a song that sounds a little like Sondheim, and here's one that could have come from …Forum or Damn Yankees).
The story is classical comedy, full of cross-dressing,
star-crossed lovers, pompous elders, lusty servants, and a more-or-less happy
ending. Agis (Tripp Pettigrew) is the rightful Prince of Sparta, whose throne
has been taken, quite innocently on her part, by Princess Leonide (Abby Baum),
his sworn enemy. In a twist that seems to happen quite a bit in these sorts of
plays, Leonide has spotted Agis studying in his garden and has fallen in love
with him. She sneaks into the
The story does offer some clever twists. Leonide, in order to stay in the garden, must pretend to be a friend and confidant with Agis, a lovestruck youth with Hesione, a silly girl with Hermocrates (who quickly figures out she's not a man), and must come up with lie after lie on the spot as her identity keeps coming close to being uncovered. Even she seems to have trouble keeping it all straight. In the end, all the lies are found out, truths are revealed, and love conquers all. Well, not quite all, but enough.
While the story is a trifle and the music is unremarkable, the Astoria Performing Arts Center chooses to make its production stand out by having a stellar cast. Amazing performances are given all around, with special praise going to Baum, as the love-struck heroine, Amato as Agis's icy aunt, who has given up love for logic, and Alan as the pompous academic, Hermocrates. Baum and Amato, in particular, have spectacular voices that make their performances a pleasure. Pettigrew as the conflicted hero, Agis, grows nicely from a boy who has lived his life in the isolation of books, into a man who, flooded with love, seems to have no idea what to do.
The production values are strong as well. Michael P. Kramer's set design is
deceptively simple and with a few movable flats, manages to get to most out of
the small stage, while still making room for director Brian Swasey's (in his last production as APAC's Artistic
Director) rather exuberant choreography. Adam
Coffia's costume design is excellent. The costumes for this production
(some of which were provided by The Gallery Players, the TDF Costume
Although Triumph of Love itself is not a great musical, APAC's production is sure to please.
Copyright 2008 by Byrne Harrison
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