After a steady diet of familiar musical-theatre staples, it’s a welcome change of pace to see some lesser-known shows make their way on to the Vancouver stage. What About LUV?, presented by Down Stage Right Productions, more than fits the bill. The show reunites director Mark Carter , actors Scott Walters and Meghan Gardiner and much of the behind-the-scenes team from last year’s DSR production of Evil Dead: The Musical.
Actors Neil Minor, Walters and Gardiner do a bang-up job in this musical adaptation of the successful Tony-winning 1964 Broadway play LUV. The trio play neurotic and whiny New Yorkers who at various points informally vie to see which among them is the most miserable.
All of the action is set on a New York City bridge and begins when Milt (Minor) stops Harry (Walters) from killing himself after a serendipitous reunion. The two former classmates end up tangled in a convoluted love triangle with Milt’s wife (Gardiner). Gardiner really shines as the uptight Ellen.
What About LUV?, at times, is smart and bitingly funny. The actors take turns being paired off in a series of musical duets and straight acting scenes, and each takes their fair share of the spotlight to showcase their respective talents.
Much of the comedy is silly in the vein of Jerry Lewis and Walters takes to it like a neurotic fish to water. Walters’ facial contortions and his scenes with his brown paper bag alone are worth the price of admission.
The first act started a bit slow and it took a while to warm to the show’s concept. The second act, which picks up one year after the first, is much stronger.
Choreographer Ken Overbey has filled the show with a series of inspired little moments that left the audience smiling. John Bessette’s set is simple but effective.
Kudos to light designer Darren Hales for his artful use of lighting. I’ve said before that I usually only notice lighting when it’s done wrong, but here I took notice several times because it was done so well.
The beauty of What About LUV? is in its simplicity. All of its elements come together into a neatly-wrapped quirky gem of a show. This is definitely a must-see.
What About LUV?, presented by Down Stage Right Productions, runs until November 13 at the Waterfront Theatre, 1412 Cartwright St., Granville Island. Tickets are available online or at the door.