Music and Lyrics by Mark Oleszko and Bethany Mayes
Book by Bethany Mayes, Sophie Frankle, and Mark Oleszko
Directed by Todd Ritch
Part of the 2015 New York International Fringe Festival
Off Off Broadway, Musical
Runs through 8.28.15
VENUE #9: Theatre 80, 80 St. Marks Place
by Angel Lam on 8.16.15
Clark Baxtresser, Tara Llewellyn, and Drew Lowther in #Lovestory. Photo by James Wilcox.
BOTTOM LINE: #LoveStory explores dating and being single in the 21st century with four interwoven stories.
It is the story of finding love in the 21st century: dating in New York City should be as simple as ordering Seamless, but not quite. Despite having readily accessible gadgets and computer apps to aid us to find that special someone, finding true love in the 21st century isn't any easier than it was for our great-grandparents. Bethany Mayes (book and lyrics) and Mark Oleszko (music and lyrics) explore contemporary dating attitudes in #LoveStory. Perhaps these gadgets have in reality made it easier for us to hide our true selves, and live in the illusion of endless opportunities. We may be fooled by clever web marketers, but each encounter and each relationship still leaves their mark on our journey. This musical is about how to find true love through self discovery, compassion and understanding.
The central character, Zoe (Tara Llewellyn), is a twenty-something year old actress/blogger. As the story unfolds, she and her friends take us through the maze of contemporary hookup culture, online dating, and social media. Four stories are told in this lengthy musical. There is the story of Katie (Danielle Dorfman) and Tim (Carter Easler), the perfectly in-love couple. Tim, is head over heels in love with Katie. He sings the song "Katie" and proposes to her at the opening scene. To everyone's surprise, Katie says no. Katie thinks Tim is too clingy until she realizes he has all the good qualities in a boyfriend. Katie must decide if she could win him back.
Evan (Clark Baxtresser) is in love with Jason and he claims to be in a great relationship, but over the course of the show something's are not quite right, and the audience never meets Jason.
Zoe and Cal (Daniel Jackson) seem to have an ongoing more-than-friends relationship, and the two have a sultry song and dance in "FWB Tango." But, as they say, "it is what it is..." A healthy relationship takes both sides. Eventually, Zoe discovers that she is human after all and this relationship is only a mask for her loneliness and insecurities.
The final relationship looks at Zoe's best friend Becca (Lana Gallo) and her ex-boyfriend, a guy she met online but hasn't gotten over yet. Becca and Tim have a fun duet in "I'm Okay." Every relationship hurts when it ends, but the online dating gadgets keeps Becca distracted and masks her true feelings.
#LoveStory at times could feel like 1950s, like when Zoe's friends disapprove of a chance hookup between Zoe and Tim. They sing to Zoe "How Can You Be Right?" when Tim is never questioned about his actions. The cast gives an energetic performance and includes some strong actors and singers. Eddie Maldonado as Holly is graceful and affectionate. The six person band is rich and has a stage presence but doesn't seem to project its full potential through the speakers. This is still a heartwarming tale on learning to find love and to be loved.
(#LoveStory plays at VENUE #9: Theatre 80, 80 St. Marks Place, through August 28, 2015. Performances are Fri 8/14 at 9:45; Wed 8/19 at 5:30; Thu 8/20 at 3:45; Wed 8/26 at 8:45; and Fri 8/28 at 5:45. The extra Fringe Fave performance is on Sun 8/30 at 3:30. There is no late seating at FringeNYC. Tickets are $18 and are available at fringenyc.org. For more information visit www.hashtaglovestorymusical.com.)