Sunday, January 30, 2011

Closing!!! 'Love Story The Musical' in London

Michael Xavier and Emma Williams in 'Love Story'
This is the second post about movies adapted into recent stage musicals and then failing to match its source material's success. This time its 'Love Story the Musical' or is it 'Love Story on Stage'. The press materials indicate the show is based on the novel by Erich Segal on which the film was based. But do you think this musical would exist if the movie was never made?

The following reviews were from the show out-of-town run before arriving in London. From Michael Billington's review in The Guardian:
"Wipe away your tears with Love Story tissues," urges a sign behind the marketing counter. But I wouldn't anticipate a great sales boom. This 110-minute chamber musical, with a score by Howard Goodall and book and lyrics by Stephen Clark, based on the Erich Segal story is so decorously tasteful that by the end, there wasn't a damp eye in the house.

Everyone, if only from the 1970 film, knows the story. Jenny, a poor Italian girl, meets Oliver, a rich boy, at Harvard, marries him and then dies. It could be moving if it weren't for the air of cold calculation, emanating from Segal's original, that surrounds the enterprise: it seeks a deep emotional response to people we hardly know. Starting with Jenny's death, Clark's lyrics ask, "What can you say about a girl who made you proud to be her friend?" Since Jenny doesn't appear to have any friends, the question seems redundant. And Oliver is worse than a cipher: he seems a jerk.

Anyone in need of a really good blub should get down to Chichester, where Howard Goodall has set to music Erich Segal's 1969 American weepie Love Story. The screen version's theme tune makes a brief appearance, but composer Goodall makes the show his own: classical, popular airs, faultlessly sung by a small cast, performed by a piano and a string sextet.

Going without a break saves the spell being broken. And spell is what it feels like, with Emma Williams and Michael Xavier as two Boston students, Jenny and Oliver, whose young marriage is shattered by her leukaemia.

'Love Story' opened at the Duchess Theatre on December 6, 2010 (following previews from Nov. 27) and shutters February 26. Unlike 'Flashdance the Musical' which closed two weeks ago, 'Love Story' leaves behind a cast recording of the score which can be purchased from

More production photos after the trailer video. (All production photos Alastair Muir.)

(image: CWiles/flickr)


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