“Where do I begin…”
Well for the stage production of Love Story it starts at the end – with a wake for one of its lead characters Jenny. From here on in you know its not going to be a laugh a minute for the next two hours but what enfolds is a beautiful and heartbreaking tale that will stay with you long after the last bars of music are played.
Love Story was released in 1970 on the silver screen starring Ryan O’ Neal and Ali McGraw, breaking box office records and gaining millions of fans across the world. The story is simple, preppy boy Oliver Barrett IV meets wise cracking working class Jenny Cavilleri. Both attend Harvard, Oliver becoming the Uni hockey star and Jenny the studious music scholar. The opposites attract, fall in love and despite Oliver’s family disapproving manage to stay together to get their happy ending but fate steps in and lends a hand…
The Bolton Octagon has struck gold here bagging the first UK revival of this version of Love Story since playing the West End and Chichester 4 years ago.
An absolutely stunning chamber musical from start to finish with polished performances from the cast and clever staging.
Former BBC reality talent show stars Daniel Boys (Any Dream Will Do) and Lauren Samuels (Over The Rainbow) excel as Oliver and Jenny, both with crystal clear vocals that are made for Howard Goodall’s mesmerizing music. The pair are great actors too giving a truth to the piece that can’t help but have your heart breaking.
Lyricist Stephen Clark, who also wrote the book for the musical, has moved away from the temptation to make the stage version of Love Story the schmaltzy and over sentimental piece it could have been. Instead he presents us with a smart, witty and moving piece of musical theatre.
There’s a talented ensemble that double up as onstage orchestra playing instruments and taking on minor characters throughout, all executed with slickness under Elizabeth Newman’s direction.
This is a production that proves you don’t need an extravagant set, crazy lighting and big names to make it a hit-the simplicity of the piece is what makes it so engaging.
I joined a number of women (and men) in the audience who had to reach for their tissues towards the end and, despite crying till my mascara ran down my face, I’d watch this show again and again.
Go see it whilst it’s here!
Love Story runs at Octagon Theatre Bolton till 12th July