Writer: Eric Segal
Book and Lyrics: Stephen Clark
Music and additional Lyrics: Howard Goodall
Director: Elizabeth Newman
Reviewer: Stephanie Rowe
As powerful and devastatingly haunting, witty, romantic, tear-jerking and heart-wrenching as the original novel by Eric Segal which was also turned into an iconic film starring Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw Love Story has the ability to turn even the hardest of critics into emotional wrecks.
The story is relatively simple – Jenny Cavilleri (Lauren Samuels) a music major starts to date Harvard law student Oliver Barrett IV (Daniel Boys), a whirlwind romance leads to a rather fast marriage proposal, resulting in Oliver being cut off from his wealthy family and inheritance. This makes Jenny decide to put her scholarship to study music in Paris aside and take up a teaching position to support him through law school. When Oliver graduates in the top three students in the school, a job with fantastic salary ensues and see’s the couples fortunes change as they move into an upmarket flat overlooking Central Park, here they start to plan their future together, but life cuts them a hand that turns their world upside-down forever.
Elizabeth Newman’s delicate production, keeps things simple, the strength here lies in not only Goodall’s soaring melodies, but in the performances from her lead actors. Daniel Boys’ portrayal of Oliver is nothing short of perfect, here he balances the arrogance of the young, privillaged scholar beautifully with the naive young man in who falls in love – his voice also suits the musical qualities of Goodall’s composition beautifully, at last the performer has a show and a rôle that lets his true potential as a leading man really shine. Equally impressive is Lauren Samuels, her edgy and confident portrayal of Jenny Cavilleri is a breath of fresh air and shows a maturity in her performance that far outweighs the ‘popcorn’ musical theatre rôles she has previously played – her final scenes are portrayed with real sensitivity that just break your heart and opens the tear ducts to level ten.
The actor musician ensemble help tie the production together, playing smaller rôles within the story of Jenny and Oliver and under the Musical Direction of Tarek Merchant bring a richness and vitality to Goodall’s textured music. However credit has to be given to Matthew Woodyatt whose execution of Jenny’s father Phil brings a great weight of emotion to the rôle, powerful and beautifully understated.
The production is played on a multi-layerd styalised veneered wood set design by Ciaran Bagnall, but because of the strength of the performances and the direction you are never at a loss to a location or place despite only a small change such as a table cloth to physically illuminate this.
Love Story is beautifully crafted production that has love poured at it from every angle, and that passion and commitment was truly relished by the standing ovation from the audience and replicated from the cast and the enduring tears still in their eyes as they took their final bow. Sensational.
Photo: Ian Tilton | Runs until 12th July 2014