With the original production running on Broadway in the late eighties and even though it was nominated for a handful of Tony Awards, Romance, Romance hasn’t resurfaced much since. Set as two separate stories in two separate acts, the musical follows two individuals and the romantic entanglements that surround them – one (‘The Little Comedy’) set in 19th century Vienna and the other (‘Summer Share’) that is set in a more modern era (though based on Jules Renard’s 1898 play Le pain de ménage) about two married couples sharing a rented cottage in The Hamptons, with one from each marriage considering an affair with each other.
The musical’s original writers, Barry Harman and Keith Herrmann (with director Steven Dexter proposing the idea) have now been adapted at the Above The Stag Theatre in Vauxhall with an LGBTQ twist – an all-male cast.
Not much has changed compared to the original storylines besides names and a line here and there, but this reinvention of the musical fits to the changes very well and it’s overall an entertaining evening – even if the dialogue could have been revitalised more. There is an element of fun in this production – some ‘tongue-in-cheek’ or pantomime-styled approaches that make the show enjoyable and charms you to the characters – particularly in the first act with ‘The Little Comedy’.
The cast are all strong and all have their time to shine – Ryan Anderson shows off his comedy chops in the first act before delivering an emotional solo in the second. Blair Robertson gives a strong comedic performance as Alfred in ‘The Little Comedy’ and Alex Lodge gives a layered performance as Lars in ‘Summer Share’ as he considers the possibility of having an affair with his best friend.
Though the standout performance goes to Jordan Lee Davies, who’s portrayal of Valentin in ‘The Little Comedy’ is the highlight of the entire show. Davies’ comedic timing and vocal talents forces the audience’s attention when he steps out – even when his role was smaller in the second story. A very memorable performance.
Another highlight is Summer Strallen’s choreography (also credited as associate director), which although limited in the space, is very well designed and executed.
Romance, Romance is light-hearted fun and when it gets going, ‘The Little Comedy’ shines. However, for ‘Summer Share’ in the second half the story isn’t as captivating and the dialogue needs shaking up for it to work more in 2019.
This venture at the Above The Stag Theatre is encouraging and should open up to further LGBTQ+ productions. Let’s hope! There’s nowhere else in London that offers this sort of theatre and they should be applauded!
‘Romance, Romance’ is running at the Above The Stag Theatre until April 6