Four appealingly performed single Manhattan roommates’ tangled romantic lives are depicted in the pleasant contemporary Off-Broadway musical, Love Quirks, which has a rapturous score. Composer and lyricist Seth Bisen-Hersh’s striking melodies and literately crafted lyrics render the variety of songs with the polish of accomplished cabaret numbers. A standout is a gay male schoolteacher wryly ruminating while on a date.
Are you John? Hey! What’s goin’ on? Um, yeah, I’m Ryan… I
was spyin’ to make sure you looked like your pic. Some send
a fake… Or a nude by mistake… Or they make up facts or
put on acts.
Um, yeah, I think it’s rough, To go and lie on scruff… I
mean you’ll find out on the date! Um, yeah, so great… here we are.
Radiating warmth, depth and humor, the personable and talented cast of Maggie McDowell, Matthew Schatz, Erin Lamar and Lauren Testerman, each achieve rich characterizations of their relatable roles and glory in their solos.
Sharing an apartment at various times are jaded writer Lili who is besotted with a bartender; nice guy catering chef Chris whose ex-girlfriend cheated on him; soon to be divorcée Stephanie; and gay schoolteacher Ryan whose relationships have typically lasted a few months. Will things work out for Lili and Ryan? Will Chris and Stephanie act out on their below-the-surface feelings for each other?
Mark Childers’ original book doesn’t quite connect all the threads successfully. Running two hours including an intermission, Love Quirks’ momentum periodically stalls. While Mr. Childers’ introductory first act somewhat meanders, his second act has more narrative drive as the friends’ conflicts are satisfyingly resolved. The fine dialogue rings true with observational comic flourishes and enough biographical data is smoothly imparted to delineate the characters.
Director Brian Childers’ basic staging renders the material with a modicum of presentational flair. Working minimally, scenic designer Josh Iacovelli cleverly represents Manhattan with a monitor overhead projecting choice footage of familiar locales, simple furnishings and the great touch of two panels of scaled-down old apartment building exterior walls with rows of miniature fire escapes. Mr. Iacovelli’s contributions are all resourceful, purposeful and optically delightful.
Rocky Noel’s lighting design is artfully complementary, his sound design could be toned down as portions of songs get drowned out by the volume. Costume designer Edward Kershaw clothes the quartet with present day realism. Music director Austin Nuckols on piano, Ana Lei on cello and Ethan Gueldenzopf’s virtuoso percussion playing realize the score to its fullest.
While not a groundbreaking knockout, Love Quirks is a charming and thoughtful entertainment.
Love Quirks (through September 2, 2022)
AMT Theater, 354 West 45th Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, visit http://www.lovequirks.com
Running time: two hours including one intermission