Lovesick or Things That Don't Happen
nytheatre.com review by Heather McAllister
February 4, 2012
When it comes to love, I’m still a romantic and an optimist, even though—like my friend Bob says—lately I can’t seem to give it away. Nevertheless, that’s me. So, I went to see Lia Romeo’s new anti-musical, LoveSick or Things That Don’t Happen at 59E59, with a cautiously open mind and heart, somewhat grudgingly ready to see others enjoy their candy-conversation-heart love and hopefully not turn green with envy. As it turns out, I was tickled pink. LoveSick is joyous, clever and uplifting, and left me feeling happy for those who’ve found love, and hopeful for myself that maybe Bob’s wrong, and romance might still be in the cards for me after all.
First up is the emcee, the versatile and charming Michael Nathanson, who leads us on our romantic journey, darkly narrating between catchy songs and snappy vignettes about—of course—love. The setting is a cozy, romantic/divey bar designed by Kevin Judge with a lovely wall of illuminated bottles that change color and shape. Sexy lighting design is by Ben Hagen and Joe Skowronski.
The original songs by Tony Biancosino are so good, I wanted to buy the cast album right then and there. Captivating, offbeat and clever, the first song, “Crazy,” performed by Nathanson, should be in heavy rotation on the radio and a huge new hit. It reminded me of those great, odd 1990s bands, like Tripping Daisy or Puddle of Mudd: brutally honest, a little dark, and very funny. My other favorite song, “Bye, Bye, Bye,” is a fantastic boy band number led by Jeff Tuohy (seriously, I want the cast album!), with awesome, passionate moves illustrating every word.
Douglas Hall’s choreography delighted the audience. We were literally hooting with joy, and my cheeks hurt from smiling so much. The musical numbers are gracefully executed in a very tight space, with beautifully descriptive and deceptively simple choreography. Very impressive for an “anti-musical.”
The seven two-person vignettes set up around the songs are quirky, warm, and briskly paced by conceiver/director Michole Biancosino’s cast of fourteen actors. In the sketches we see a wide variety of love presented in sometimes bizarre and often hilarious circumstances. Through it all, the actors are honest and affable, with great emotional depth. Hats off to their likeable portrayals of sometimes unlikable characters, including my favorites: Teresa Stephenson as a kind of life coach / “Narcotics Prostitute,” Pat McRoberts as a delightfully pervy hotline worker, Aidan Sullivan as a super cute bridesmaid with a killer secret, and especially Lisa Velten Smith and Barrett Hall. Smith and Hall eloquently express the beauty in optimism, the bittersweet hope of repressed love and longing, and the prayer for a happy ending we all share. And they are still really funny. Their duet, “Fire,” brought tears to my eyes.
The entire cast is gorgeous, and as an added bonus, we see many of them in their underwear! It’s not excessive, or gratuitous—hmm, except for a couple of times—but the bodies look good, in very cute underwear, so I can see the thinking behind it by costumers Emily DeAngelis and Whitney Adams.
My only negative comment is that some of the narration between scenes is a little too lengthy, and a little too negative. A soufflé of romantic comedy like this one needs a light touch to keep it aloft.
Overall, I highly recommend LoveSick for my fellow romantic optimists, or pessimists looking to change their mood. It’s smart, and has a lovable cast that you can really root for. In cheering their successes, we get to cheer ourselves.