By Tonia Humphrey
Right Angle Entertainment presents Love Actually? The Unauthorized Musical Parody. The Chicago production of the off-Broadway hit is a holiday season sendup of the iconic romantic comedy and Christmas movie Love Actually. The musical is written by Bob and Tobly McSmith, creators of the smash hits The Office! A Musical Parody and Friends! The Musical Parody, with music and orchestration by Basil Winterbottom.
The limited engagement is scheduled to run through Sunday, January 2, 2022 at the Apollo Theater, 2550 N Lincoln Ave. Tickets, starting at $29, are on sale now at Ticketmaster.com, by calling (773) 935-6100, or by visiting the box office at the Apollo Theater.
The stage is set for the holidays. There is a gift-wrapped backdrop with two telephone booths – seemingly appropriate for the numerous costume changes that took place, perhaps serving as a yesteryear spoof of Superman’s fitting room!
Love Actually? What is love? That was the question to be answered in Bob and Tobly McSmith’s off-Broadway rendition and paradox of the movie, Love Actually. The audience relived the joy of the parody of love and the joys of Christmas. In- keeping with the season, one character announced – it is “the best time of the year.” The musical parody invited the audience to step into the holiday season to make it a wonderful time of the year.
Laughter roared from the audience as the comical cast changed wardrobes, placed various styles of wigs on their heads, presented a Laurel and Hardy-type classic Hollywood act, and sang versions of love songs that brought Broadway to Chicago.
One might wonder in what way Love Actually was a parody? Each cast member gave a theatrical brand of Academy Award performance, acted to the hilt, using exaggeration for the intended comedic effect. The couples presented comical perspectives of how people can, might, and do experience the thing called love. Love, the emotion that surpasses all other emotions, remained questionable and uncertain throughout the musical. However, the cast invited the audience to relax their minds and take a ride on the love train of laughter and amusement.
The songs that were crooned and caroled included: – “Message of Love, Actually”, “He’s the Prime Minister”, “Dark Deeds in Dark Corners”, and the “Language of Love” to name a few. The songs served as love ballads from the various cast members that at times were quirky, yet idiosyncratic. Each performers pesented a pleasant-sounding melody, that was easy on the ear.
The cast included Ann Delaney (Emma Thompson and Others), Jake Elkins (Colin Firth and Others), Ryan Foreman (Peter and Others), Dan Piehal (Hugh Grant and Others), Amanda Walker (Keira Knightley and Others), and Christopher Wayland (Liam Neeson and Others). The understudies were Daryn Alexus, Jesi Mullins and Dylan Obrochta. This stand-in cast artfully characterized the headliner movie stars Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, and Colin Firth.
The musical served as a segue to reliving the 2003 movie as well as getting individuals out into the theater to enjoy a superhero comedy to say the least. Love Actually presented a Tony Award nominee performance that would get anyone in the mood to celebrate Christmas and to think about love. Love. The small word that has such a powerful meaning. A word that transcends through the musical, leaving the audience wondering and pondering about one of the oldest questions in the world – what is love actually? Is it an actually true meaning or is it simply a parody that humans have experienced throughout history?
As the sound of an airplane flying overhead could be heard the audience was left to ponder whether Love Actually is the ode to love and humor. Getting back into the theater to see this play in-person is a lovely experience.