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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at the Paper Mill Playhouse, New York

By Robert L. Daniels

  (L-R)Danette Holden, Matt Bogart, Jessica Bogart and Mark Ledbetter/Photo: Gerry Goodstein

Ah! Spring is in the air and no sweeter in bloom than at the Paper Mill Playhouse where Romance/Romance has nestled in for a month long stay through April 1. The quaint tuner made its debut two decades ago off-Broadway and its flavorful charm prompted a move to Broadway. The musical has retained its quaint and spirited thrust, even though it appears to have lost much if its intimacy upon the sprawling Millburn stage. Its distinction is to be found in the artful coupling of its principal players, the real life married couple, Matt and Jessica Bogart..

The first of two one-acters is a mini-operetta based on Arthur Schnitzer's Little Comedy, in which Mr. Bogart plays a dashing and bored boulevadier in turn-of-century Vienna, who masquerades as a struggling poet to woo what appears to be a poor little seamstress. The appealing young lady, acted with spunky spirit by Mrs. Bogart, is in fact a saucy and fashionable social butterfly. With bubbly champagne in hand, the couple waltz, polka and whirl through a simmering courtship.

The lilting music, comfortably structured by Keith Herrman, is set to lyrics by book writer Barry Harman . The simple melodic structure of the score frames the action and text with sweetly accessible strains, and the music is well served by the voices of our principal couple.

"Summer Share," based on "Pain de Menage" by Jules Renard, is the second playlet, and it finds two contemporary couples from upper West Side Gotham vacationing in the Hampton's. At a summery beach cottage the restlessly married Sam (Mr. Bogart) gets the long harbored itch to take his best friend's wife (Mrs. Bogart) to bed. It's a rather heated affair, feverishly acted and well defined by the fervent score.

In sharply contrasting roles, the Bogart's are enormously attractive and convincing. From the chase to the fevered passion of the moment they brilliantly bridge the century mark with fresh and distinctive portraits.Danette Holden and Mark Ledbetter contribute boldly definitive support, especially in the imagery of a Lautrec flavored dancing duo.

Director Mark S. Hoebee has managed to harness the intrinsic charm of the piece and make it agreeably palatable on the big stage, and his choreography is exquisitely tidy and attractive. A little short on humor, with songs that are not particularly lasting, the piece nevertheless seems to waltz into ones heart with considerable ease.


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