Romance Romance

By Disch, Thomas M. | The Nation, May 21, 1988 | Go to article overview

Romance Romance


Disch, Thomas M., The Nation


Romance Romance was the last musical of the year to arrive on Broadway in time for Tony consideration, and while it may be too modest in scale to compete against such Godzillas as Phantom and Chess, its stars, Scott Bakula and Alison Fraser, are definite Tony contenders. Bakula has the leadingman qualities of Cary Grant or Gregory Peck (whom he much resembles, especially mustachioed in Act I): egregious good looks, a body that can semaphore meaning without seeming to strike poses and an ingratiating smile. It is impossible not to like him. Alison Fraser's charms are more tart, but as with a strawberry-rhubarb pie, the tartness allows for a degree of sweetness that would be otherwise too much. And her singing voice just wraps you up and takes you home.

Romance Romance is actually two musicals. I liked the first, more lightweight "The Little Comedy," set in turn-of-the-century Vienna and based on a Schnitzler story, somewhat more than "Summer Share," with a contemporary Hamptons sifting although based on a play by Jules Renard. "The Little Comedy" is that oddity, an epistolary musical, but lyricist Barry Harman and composer Keith Herrmann have turned the artifice of songs taking the form of letters to their dramatic advantage, while the same conceit is the undoing of the other recent epistolary musical, Mad. …

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