Reviewed by Audrey Weinbrecht
For those who prefer their holiday season with a shot of cynicism (and booze), Love Actually? The Musical Parody checks all the boxes. Having reached the time of year when TV stations seem to be playing this movie on a seemingly continuous loop, this show is a welcome laugh.
Writers Bob & Tobly Smith, the minds that brought us Friends! The Musical Parody and The Office! The Musical Parody have found another pop culture icon to skewer and they do so deliciously. Whether you love the film or hate it, you’re guaranteed to laugh. A familiarity with the movie is required but unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past sixteen years that shouldn’t be a problem.
In 90 minutes, the show gallops through the movie’s myriad of characters and plot threads, pointing out that some of them are pretty messed up. A man cheats on his wife with his secretary (oldest cliché in the world), a newly-elected Prime Minister goes door to door to chase down the employee he’s in love with, a writer and his Portuguese cleaning lady fall in love despite not speaking the same language, a man confesses his undying love to his best friend’s wife. Did they mention it’s Christmas time?
Each cast member plays at least half a dozen characters, giving each one a chance to show off their mastery of celebrity impressions and lightning-fast costume changes. Their energy fuels the show and ensures that there is never a dull moment. The music is fun, upbeat and catchy.
Occasionally, the show slips into simply summarizing the film without the sharp commentary satire requires, yet certain highlights such as the decision to portray Alan Rickman’s character as Professor Snape, Kayla Catan’s uncanny imitation of Keira Knightley’s facial expressions, and the musical number where Emma Thompson’s character defies the original script and leaves her cheating husband, provide the necessary bite the show needs.
The script also shows off an encyclopedic knowledge of IMDB, slipping in a comment about Knightley being 18 when she filmed the movie and a scathing nod to January Jones’ cameo. “The best acting she will ever do!”
Despite being a parody, the show never feels mean-spirited. Instead it reminds us that making fun of an old movie is fun because we love it. As a bonus, there is an opportunity to have your picture taken with the infamous “To me, you are perfect” sign in the lobby.
Love Actually? opens on December 2nd and runs until January 14th at the Jerry Orbach Theater at the Theater Center (1627 Broadway).
Tickets can be purchased at https://www.loveactuallyparody.com/