By Stephanie Holland
By Stephanie Holland
There are times when a trip to the theater is an uplifting and exciting experience. Sadly the University of Redlands’s April 5 production of “Love U” did not provide such an experience.
Produced in partnership with Riverside City College’s department of performing arts and the Riverside school for the arts, “Love U” is the story of a stuffy academic who falls in love with a wild performance artist.
Beginning with the opening number “Shtick” and ending with the so called big finale, “Love U” was a jumbled mess from start to finish.
The most obvious setback of the night was the constant problems with the sound.
It frequently dropped in and out during musical numbers, which made it difficult for the audience to connect with the actors.
Not that anyone seemed interested in making that connection.
“Love U” was awash in ridiculous racial stereotypes. The racial humor wasn’t smart like that of “South Park” or “The Boondocks,” therefore it wasn’t funny and the audience was left feeling uncomfortable.
The eerie silence of the audience was broken up by the occasional smattering of polite laughter from friends and family of the cast and crew.
Our story opened in a deli owned by Hersh, a Middle Eastern character portrayed predictably over the top.
This individual was the single most offensive thing in a play filled with offensive things.
There was absolutely no reason for the character to be portrayed like an unfunny version of Apu from “The Simpsons,” other than to go for the cheap laugh.
The next person we were introduced to was Solly Waldorf, the wise old Jewish man who knows everyone in the history of the world and has a song for every occasion.
It was another over the top performance that completely missed the mark.
Solly frequently broke the fourth wall and bantered with the audience in an attempt to draw the crowd in; however it just highlighted the many flaws of the actor.
By the time the main couple Nora and Karl finally meet, it is at the end of Act 1 and the audience has lost all ability to care whether or not they fall in love and get together.
Craig Colclough’s portrayal of male lead Karl Shapiro, was one of the few bright spots in a sea of mediocrity.
Colclough’s strong singing and the Kevin Smith/Jack Black quality he brought to the stage made him the only relatable, real character.
The only other positive of the night was the jazzy soundtrack composed by RCC associate professor Peter Curtis.
The music was tightly performed and extremely enjoyable until the actors started singing and the audience was forced to listen to the lyrics.
Curtis’s beautifully penned ballad about chasing dreams, titled “That Ship Has Sailed,” was the one standout moment of the show.
Unfortunately, the rest of the lyrics weren’t as sharp, and they fell flat.
A rap by a White Afro-American studies professor who thinks he’s black came off extremely offensive and not the least bit funny.
On the surface “Love U” may be the story of opposites who fall in love against the odds, but it’s really the story of a musical that tries way too hard to be hip and makes the audience suffer the consequences of its failure.
One thought on “‘Love U’ not ready to graduate”
I strongly disagree with the organization of this review. Though it was written five years ago, I stumbled upon it tonight.
The one highlight of this review, was that it did not completely ignore the music in “Love U,” which was enchanting. So excellent, that five years later, I’m searching the tunes in the middle of the night. And good music is a pretty strong attribute…in a musical!
I think the priorities of this review are a bit scrambled. Technical difficulties are really not fair grounds for judging the worth of any work. Racism is, however. I attended this performance with audience members of three different races that enjoyed it. They did not express feeling offended, but rather the genuine amusement you stated was lacking in the audience. Perhaps if there was something particularly offensive, your review would have benefitted from one clear illustration. I feel that at such a small production, if the contributors even sensed that they had offended anyone, they would amend the production itself in future performances! In any case, I maintain that this is a fun, relatable, bright story. It is a comedy with a heart and a head to it.
So, Dear Reviewer, you appear to be a good writer, but I leave you with this: it is possibly your review that “tries way too hard to be hip and makes the audience suffer the consequences of its failure.”
If there is a future opportunity, I would recommend attending this musical.
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