@ The Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St.
 

Romance/Romance

Book and Lyrics by Barry Harman, Music by Keith Herrmann, Directed by Karen Caroe

  • L to R: Lenny (Matthew Esqueda), Monica (Megan McQueen) Sam (Heath Tjaden) and Barb (Amanda Bradford) in Summer Share
  • (L to R): Her (Amada Bradford) and Josefine (Megan McQueen) in The Little Comedy
  • (L to R): Alfred (Heath Tjaden) and Josefine (Megan McQueen) in The Little Comedy
  • (L to R): Him (Matthew Esqueda) and Alfred (Heath Tjaden) in The Little Comedy
  • (L to R): Monica (Megan McQueen) and Lenny (Matthew Esqueda) in Summer Share
  • (L to R): Barb (Amanda Bradford) and Sam (Heath Tjaden) in Summer Share
  • L to R: Monica (Megan McQueen) and Sam (Heath Tjaden) in Summer Share
  • (L to R): Alfred (Heath Tjaden) and Josefine (Megan McQueen) in The Little Comedy
  • (L to R): Barb (Amanda Bradford), Sam (Heath Tjaden), Monica (Megan McQueen) and Lenny (Matthew Esqueda) in Summer Share
  • (L to R): Josefine (Megan McQueen) and Alfred (Heath Tjaden) in The Little Comedy

Jan 24-Feb 16, 2014

FRI JAN 24,31 FEB 7,16 | 8:00 PM
SAT JAN 25, FEB 1,8,15| 8:00 PM
SUN FEB 2,9,16| 2:30 PM
THU FEB 6 | 7:00 PM

Description

"Romance/Romance" is a delightful musical with Book and Lyrics by Barry Harman and Music by Keith Hermann, is composed of two 1-Act plays linked by the common theme of love. It is directed by Karen Caroe and runs at the Black Box Theatre, 430 N Downtown Mall in Las Cruces from January 24 to February 16, 2014. Featured performers are Megan McQueen, Heath Tjaden, Amanda Bradford and Matthew Esqueda.

"The Little Comedy", is based on a short story by Arthur Schnitzler. Set in late 19th century Vienna, it focuses on Josephine and Alfred, who have both become extremely "bored" with their very comfortable lifestyles and have decided to take on new personas. Alfred takes on the role of a struggling poet and Josefine, a working class woman. The plot centers around their budding relationship as they meet during a weekend in the country. Whether or not they survive the inedible food, bad wine and swarming insects remains to be seen.

Act II, "Summer Share", is based on the Jules Renard's 1898 play "Le pain de menage." This modern-day musical, set in the Hamptons, is about two married couples in their thirties who are spending the summer in a rented cottage. Sam, who is married to Barb, and Monica, who is married to Lenny, find themselves gradually progressing from harmless flirtation to the serious possibility of an illicit affair.

Credits

[Summer Share] Barb
[Summer Share] Lenny
[Summer Share] Monica
[Summer Share] Sam
[The Little Comedy] Alfred
[The Little Comedy] Her
[The Little Comedy] Him
[The Little Comedy] Josefine
Book And Lyrics
Costumes
Director
Light And Scenic Design
Music

Reviews

A 'No Strings' Romance - Romance/Romance aided by intimate Black Box setting

- By Gerald M. Kane , Las Cruces Bulletin

The Black Box Theatre is an intimate acting space which is the perfect venue for just the right kind of small musical. "Romance Romance," the lovely production currently playing at the Black Box through February 16 is an excellent example of a musical that is best served by such an intimate space."Romance Romance" is a delightful, little known musical, which opened on Broadway in 1998 with a modest yet respectable run. The book and lyrics are by Barry Harman and music is by Keith Hermann.

It is composed of two One-Act plays linked by a number of truly thoughtful themes. Most critics have said that the theme of the musical is love. Watching the opening night performance, I found, as I dug deeper into each plot, issues of fidelity and infidelity, truth and artifice, morality and the lure of immorality make both plays a bit more serious and thought provoking than stating that the shows deal with simply love.

The first play, "The Little Comedy," is based on a short story by Arthur Schnitzler and explores the dynamics of the relationship between two wealthy individuals who have adopted "lower class"personas. Set in 19th century Vienna both Josefine and Alfred are aristocrats who have tired of the artifice surrounding their opulent and decadent lives, and pretend to be lower class folk in order to find true love. When they do, they reveal their true backgrounds to each other's amazement. Emotions are punctuated by two actors identified a "Him" and "Her," representing the alter egos of the main characters. The bittersweet ending leaves us uncertain of the future which lies before them.

The second play, "Summer Share," is based on Jules Renard's 1898 play "Le pain de ménage," is updated to today and set in The Hamptons, where two upwardly mobile yuppie married couples are spending the season in a rented cottage. Again, we are confronted with confused passions as Monica, married to Lenny, and Sam, married to Barb yearn for an illicit affair. Morality kicks in and we are left with dreams unconsummated as life goes on.

The music for the first play is a bit stodgy for my taste, save for a number about dancing a polka. The second play, which has a far more complex plot and very fascinating music and lyrics throughout reminded me of the type of music and lyrics written by Stephen Sondheim, especially in musicals like "Marry Me a Little" and "Company.

The performers in the Black Box production are just fine. Megan McQueen is so gifted in her portrayals of a variety of musical performances. She does not disappoint at all. I would come to watch her sing from the phone book!

Amanda Bradford, who has stayed in the acting shadows in town for quite a while, has re-emerged brilliantly. I can't wait to see her in future productions.

Heath Tjaden is a fine actor, although he would have benefited if his songs were transposed down a bit to better accommodate his voice. Matthew Esqueda has a bright voice and acts appropriately insensitive to the needs of his wife in the second play as the script dictates.

Director Karen Caroe keeps the pace flowing nicely. The light and scenic design is up to Peter Herman's outstanding standards. The costume design by Autumn Gieb is perfect, although I could do without the bustles which add a peculiar accentuation to Ms McQueen's derriere!

In sum, "Romance Romance" is well worth your time . It will provide you with an enjoyable theatre experience, with delightful performances. You will leave the Black Box with much to ponder about your own relationships and various complex aspects of love and life.

"Romance Romance" plays at the Black Box Theatre, 430 N Downtown Mall in Las Cruces from through February 16, 2014. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., Sunday Matinees on February 2, 9 and 16 at 2:30 p.m. and a Thursday performance on February 6 at 7:00 p.m. Reservations can be made by calling the Black Box Theatre at (575) 523-1223.

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