|Renee Fleming, Jerry O'Connell, Douglas Sills|
Photo: Sara Krulwich
How this made it to Broadway is truly a puzzler. I imagine the producers put a fair amount of stock in the hypothetical selling power of their star, the opera singer Renee Fleming, in her first non-musical role. That Fleming--perhaps the most recognizable soprano of her generation--would be playing a temperamental diva surely seemed like synergy. Yet at the performance I attended, there were a lot of empty velvet seat-backs, despite a preview deal offering tickets for $19.57 (the price reflects the year the play takes place).
Living on Love was adapted by Joe DiPietro (Memphis) from a third-rate play by Garson Kanin called Peccadillo. A fiery Italian conductor (Douglas Sills) seems more interested in wine and women than dictating his memoir to his ghostwriter (Jerry O'Connell). When the maestro fires his scribe, his wife (Fleming) hires him to write her own autobiography, while the maestro sets his sights on a mousy young copy-editor (Anna Chlumsky).
Hilarity is meant to ensue, I suppose, but the jokes aren't just old enough to vote--they're old enough to collect social security. The actors do their best with some truly crappy material; for a first time actor, Fleming manages not to embarrass herself, despite the script's many attempts to embarrass her. Still, I don't see this as the beginning of a fruitful second career.
And I also don't see this play hanging around Broadway for long after the reviews are published. Addio--molto rancor.
[Rear orchestra, way more than it's worth]