What’s love got to do with it? Practically nothing in this explicit banquet of fornication served up by director Jack Cummings III in his reimagined, remounting of Michael John LaChiusa’s HELLO AGAIN (which is loosely based on LA RONDE by Arthur Schnitzler) in its first major New York revival now playing in a loft space at 52 Mercer Street, redesigned as some sort of sophisticated private sex club.
Ten large round tables, some high some low, draped in white cloths in a room painted black with various mirrors hung on the wall facing the musicians and dim lights overhead await the ten actors who will display their talents both vocal and sexual. It’s a bit unsettling and very titillating.
In episodic scenes that span different eras, to allow the composer to use many different styles of music to fuel the atmosphere with feelings of lust and carnal gratification, we meet those lost unhappy souls searching for love or at the very least lust all the while singing the words and music of Mr. LaChiusa.
Most difficult to swallow at first hearing. The dialogue is almost entirely sung through with nary a melody to be remembered. The most melodic music occurs as the scenes and bed partners change.
The ten exceptional actors perform the score with incredible vocal ability, feeling and skill. It’s not an easy score to sing. Striving to sound like Sondheim but without the razor sharp wit or cleverness, Mr. La Chiusa’s words and music disappoint.
But the actors do not in this bed hopping story that starts with a whore (Nikka Graff Lanzarone) who meets a Soldier (Max von Essen) who meets a Nurse (Elizabeth Stanley) who meets a College Boy (Robert Lenzi) who meets a Young Wife (Alexandra Silber) who is seen with her Husband (Bob Stillman) who meets a Young Thing (Blake Daniel) who meets a Writer (Jonathan Hammond) who is involved with an Actress (Rachael Bay Jones) who is involved with a Senator (Alan Campbell) who meets the whore – Hello again!
All of them have various fully clothed, provocative sexual encounters atop the tables or in the central bed right under our noses where bared buttocks pound away.
They are a depressing lot and you are left with a melancholy aftertaste as you leave the show feeling for these people who desperately want to fulfill their needs in their thirst for happiness. But are they searching to share love with someone or just looking for a quickie?
Extended through April 10th. Certainly worth a visit. www.transportgroup.org
Photo: Carol Rosegg
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