Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown, MA
through July 26, 2014
by Walt Haggerty
Summer theatre once had a reputation for presenting light, frothy entertainments as “vehicles” suited to the talents of available stars of Hollywood, television, and Broadway. Often these were tried and true revivals of popular, successful productions. Occasionally they were new works with an optimistic sight-line focused on Broadway. “Living on Love” is a delightful example of the latter.
Whether “Living on Love” actually has Broadway as an objective remains to be seen. What it does have is a more than welcome light comedy by Joe Depietro, based on an earlier work by Garson Kanin. “Living on Love” is performed by an outstanding cast headed by world renowned Metropolitan Opera star, Renee Fleming as Raquel DeAngelis, the latter a diva of the highest order. Here demonstrates a broad range of talent, most especially a natural flair for comedy.
The story opens with Douglas Sills giving a bravura performance as Vito DeAngelis, Raquel’s husband and an internationally acclaimed symphony conductor in his own right. Vito is currently reluctantly working on his (ghost written) autobiography, assisted by frustrated writer Robert Samson, impeccably played by Justin Long. Considering the high velocity nature of the principals, Raquel’s decision to write HER (ghost written) autobiography complicates the situation. With Robert, already “fired” by Vito, Raquel quickly recruits him as her ghost writer. Vito immediately selects Iris Peabody, charmingly portrayed by Anna Chlumsky, as his new writer. Complications develop as jealousy and tempers rise and fall and romance, as always, or almost always, triumphs.
Blake Hammond and Scott Robertson, as a Tweedledee-Tweedledum team of servants in the DeAngelis house, should be charged with grand larceny for stealing every scene in which they appear.
Director Kathleen Marshall has given “Living on Love” the bright sheen of a fast-paced, often hilarious comedy, ready for Broadway – or whatever. Special credit must be given to Fleming for treating audiences to this delightful bit of summer nonsense during what should have been her summer vacation.
“Living on Love” is a skillfully crafted refreshing summer treat.