Love Sweet Love November 30, 2007
By Glen Creason
The Southern California premiere of “Love Sweet Love” hit the boards at the Performing Arts Center over the weekend and spread some sweetness on the stage along with much contemporary visual appeal. Front and center in the show is the music of Burt Bacharach and the lyrics of Hal David providing fool-proof musical joy and a familiar, popular ground to dance upon. This Theater League production also had a young and very enthusiastic cast that lit up the stage with an optimism the lyrics don’t always have since many dwell on loss and the ache of love’s tricky travails. The overall look of “Love, Sweet Love” was fresh and colorful with sets, lighting and choreography looking all very modern and upbeat. The action bounced from a card store to coffee house to beauty parlor to office to single bar to cheesy motel to cruise ship and to a lonely wife’s bedroom with skill and some flair. In a nutshell, the story is about young folks trying to find love in a crazy world. What’s not to like about great songs, a smart production and an energetic cast tripping the lights fantastic?
Well, the show may feature over thirty gems from the Bacharach/David treasure chest but many were truncated and certainly changed from the versions we know and love. Certainly songs like “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” “Promises, Promises” and “Walk on By” are seared in our juke box consciousness forever and ever and could be sung word for word by half the population. The musical “Love Sweet Love” takes all the songs, too many in fact, and uses them to piece together a montage of the lives of a dozen characters, loosely interconnected by a philandering husband, hopeful young women and an accident victim sort of piecing her life back together. The real current that runs through it all is love but the book here is light, as light as meringue, as light as angel food cake. While the production is filled with beautiful girls and a first-rate production the singing was very definitely weighed in favor of the ladies, especially in the parts of Gwen played by Dawnn Lewis and Katherine, played by Kara Shaw who had voices to make the old chestnuts shine. Ms. Lewis was the true standout and her numbers were the best of the many. Tiffany, acted by Mercy Malick and Amy played by Alaine Kashian were outstanding in every way and several men held their own in the torrent of songs including Keith Bearden as the philandering Mike, Matthew Patrick Davis as Norman the tall, unsure of himself geek and Daniel Lujan, the nice guy Latin lover.