Saying “Goodbye” to Trip of Love
“It’s a Sign of the Times”, but alas the Off-Broadway musical revue Trip of Love is closing at the end of this week. I know that there are so many of you out there who wonder why I care, but I assure you that Trip of Love has given me a great deal of joy the seven times I have seen it. That’s right, I said “seven times”. No, it is not the perfect musical. No it isn’t Sondheim. It’s something else entirely: It is not only a great deal of fun, but it is one of the finest examples of an ensemble working their asses off for eight-shows a week. If you’ve seen the show, you know what I mean, even if the show itself is not exactly your cup of tea.
Trip of Love is a relentless musical revue, kinetic and crazed with dance number after dance number, brimming with spirit and boundless energy. This ensemble works so hard, I was continuously impressed by their pluck, their charisma and their versatility. Watching a show seven times can give you a vivid understanding of what understudies and swings do. Connor McCrory, who is a lithe and athletic dancer in the ensemble, stepped up last week to effortlessly play one of the show’s leads. Particularly effective when singing “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”, he gently let his charm flow and the number was beautiful. Or how about Brandon Leffler, the sublimely talented dancer with a smile (and body) for days who dances “Moon River” with a restrained elegance after exploding like a firecracker in “Wipe Out”? I saw Leffler cover for David Elder at one performance and his rendition of “It’s Not Usual” was full of confidence and lounge-lizardy sex appeal. I never wanted him to leave the stage. Or how about Kelly Felthouse as Caroline, the character who falls down the rabbit hole a la Alice, the voyager who takes us through the world of Trip of Love? Has an actress ever been so consistently on, effervescent and giving every ounce se has to auditoriums that are only a third full? I can assure you that she was, each and every one of those seven performances I attended. Laurie Wells, who recently departed the show, brought a lovely voice to the role of Angela, the omniscient goddess who oversees the proceedings while lending her mellifluous voice to ditties such as “Both Sides Now”, “Lovers’ Concerto” and “Up, Up and Away.” Everyone was wonderful, so I feel guilty leaving others out.
Yes, Trip of Love looked like it was borrowing its style and techniques from a 1960s or 1970s variety show on television. Many people have called it cheesy, but I have to admit that this was part of the fun. For a few hours, I was able to escape back to the music of yesteryear while simultaneously recalling the fun of The Carol Burnett Show, Donny and Marie, and Lawrence Welk. Watching Felthouse poised in front of a lighthouse while singing “Where the Boys Are” or hearing the electric Joey Calveri’s emotionally charged “What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted?” sung in front of a backdrop of Haight-Ashbury, recalls some of the best moments of these variety shows’ takes on (then) contemporary music. It all felt of one-piece.
I’m sorry to see Trip of Love go. It brought me a great deal of joy, and from what I was witnessing in the theatre those seven visits, most of the people around me were ecstatic from their experience. It will continue to hold a special place in my heart, even if it is not amongst my favorite musicals, it will always be amongst my favorite experiences. What is the difference, you might say? The former makes me think, while the latter makes me smile. I have never been one to reject anything that brings me joy. Thank you to the cast of Trip of Love for giving me a reason, seven times over, to grin from ear-to-ear.
If only I could see it one more time...or two...