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Triumph of Love

Michelle Herring as Princess Leonide and Tanner Sands as Agis
Michelle Herring as Princess Leonide
and Tanner Sands as Agis
It took a while, but over three centuries after it premiered in Paris, Pierre de Marivaux' comedy of love and seduction found popularity as both a play and as a chamber musical (book by James Magruder, music by Jeffrey Stock, and lyrics by Susan Birkenhead). For the latter, trimming some of the intellectual complexity of the original, while adding a wonderful set of songs and delicious subtext, proves to be a winning formula, as we see in Center Stage's charming production.

Director Jeanie Balch does wonders with two alternate ensembles of talented young actors, whose voices win the day (Music Direction by Katie McClave). On Saturday night, the 27th, Michelle Herring lit it up as Princess Leonide—who falls in love with Agis (Tanner Sands), the true prince of Sparta, from whom her family usurped the crown—and not only wins Agis' heart, but those of Hermocrates (Nathan Lawrence), Agis' teacher, and Hesione (Victoria Baird), Hermocrates' upright sister: quite a feat, given that Hermocrates and his followers have all sworn themselves to a "rational" life devoid of emotions.

Sadie Trigg as Corine and Christopher Turner as Harlequin
Sadie Trigg as Corine and
Christopher Turner as Harlequin
Leonides' equally seductive lady in waiting, Corine (Sadie Trigg), conquers Agis's valet, Harlequin (Christopher Turner) and gardener, Dimas (Matt O'Connor).

The twists and turns of the wooing played against the façade of Spartan restraint, make for a series of rueful trysts, rife with well-intentioned, but futile, resistance.

Jeff Williams' choreography is delightful and Balch's stylish period costumes are a treat. Nice keyboard work from Daniel Graeber on the Roland.

CenterStage Theatre Company's Triumph of Love, at the Louisville Arts Center, runs through August 11th. For tickets: http://triumphoflove.brownpapertickets.com/.

Bob Bows

 

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