Review of “The Love List” at the Lake George, Ny Dinner Theatre
by Gail Burns and Roseann Cane
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Roseann Cane: In the few years since last visiting Lake George, I’d forgotten just how breathtakingly beautiful the Adirondacks are. The Holiday Inn Resort, home of the Lake George Dinner Theatre, overlooks the lake and boasts a glorious view.
This was my first visit to this theater, and I rarely go to dinner theater. The attentive, professional waitstaff couldn’t have been more pleasant. I enjoyed my generous portion of hearty vegetarian lasagna.
Gail Burns: My salmon was delicious and generous too. With salad, coffee, and cheesecake for dessert, the meal is substantial and a good value.
Roseann: And here’s another nice touch: patrons have the option of purchasing tickets for the show only—a convenience for vacationers who may have a limited time to enjoy all the activities that Lake George has to offer.
Gail: We think of the Berkshires as a tourist destination, but it does not have the Touristy feel that Lake George has. Lake George Dinner Theatre can run a single show for three months because most of their audience are “transients.”
Roseann: The place was packed on the Tuesday afternoon we attended. I don’t think it’s possible to get a bad table, and I got a kick out of watching the reactions of other audience members in a way that’s not possible in a conventional theater.
Gail: It is unique for me to see/review a production a month into its run that still has two months to go. Even with shows that run two or three months at Shakespeare & Company I see them a week or two in and never go back. I rarely get to see a cast and a production that is really “settled in” and I enjoyed that.
Roseann: The Love List is a clever adult comedy by Canadian playwright Norm Foster. Should I be embarrassed that I’d never heard of him before? Because I now know that Foster is really prolific, and he may be Canada’s most produced playwright.
Gail: Foster is billed as “the Canadian Neil Simon” which is true if you are referring to Simon’s early work. There is a glib, sitcom style quality to Foster’s writing which is familiar and nonthreatening while still providing plenty of laughs. While there is no swearing, there are several “adult” jokes and a view of the actress’ lovely bare legs, so I am not sure I would recommend this as a show for the whole family. The crowd we saw it with were decidedly over 21 and they were having a great time.
Roseann: The Love List tells the story of Bill (Jarel Davidow), a self-effacing, lonely divorcé marking his fiftieth birthday with his womanizing best friend Leon (Bill Saunders). Leon convinces Bill to accept his birthday gift of a matchmaking service, and the two collaborate to fill out a form that lists the traits of Bill’s ideal woman.
Enter Justine (Rachel Cornish), who, unarguably, is that ideal woman. And yes, hilarity ensues. Bill and Leon ultimately learn to value the rewards of loving, and being loved by, women who are as imperfect as they are.
Gail: I thought the storyline was inventive and nicely executed. Foster kept me guessing right up to the last minute and I was surprised by the ending.
Roseann: Davidow is at once funny and poignant. It would be easy to play obsessive-compulsive statistician Bill just for laughs, but this gifted actor revels in his humanity. His insecurity and self-doubt are palpable, his longing ever-present. He anchors this play and provides depth where there could have been a simple sit-com.
I initially found Bill Saunders’s Leon a tad too supercilious and wondered if this very attractive actor was on autopilot, turning in a performance that was superficial rather than playing a character who was. But I warmed up to Saunders before long. He seemed to acquire more complexity over time, and he and Davidow were good foils for each other.
Rachel Cornish as the rollicking, quicksilver Justine had the audience roaring. She makes a particularly demanding role look deceptively easy, and she’s really fun to watch.
Gail: Speaking of sitcom comparisons, The Love List reminded me somewhat of I Dream of Jeannie with Bill as a nebbishy Tony Nelson. Leon was clearly playing Major Healy and Justine was the beautiful magical girl whose seeming perfection comes at a cost.
Roseann: I often complain about amplification. I just don’t like it. I’m backing off in this case, because I have to admit I didn’t find it intrusive, and I appreciate that there were no visible mics. However, at one point, I was very disappointed because what could have been a very amusing bit of business was undermined by over-amplification in the kitchen area of the set. RPM Sound Design, I hope you’ll take note.
Gail: I agree with you, except for that kitchen scene, the sound quality was excellent and the mics unobtrusive. I am willing to forgive that bit of clatter for the joy of NOT hearing patrons grumble about the sound at intermission and after the show, and not having to put up with audible queries of “What did s/he say?” after every punch line.
With any theatre, I look at how a company defines itself and then judge how close they come to achieving that goal. Lake George Dinner Theatre is celebrating its 45th season this summer, and if this production is representative of the body of their work I can understand their longevity. They know their audience and provide exactly what they claim to offer, good lunch/dinner and good theatre. While The Love List isn’t a Pulitzer Prize contender, it is smart and funny, and this production was well acted and neatly staged on a handsome set.
Roseann: Judging by the reactions of the audience, director-producer Terry Rabine knocked it out of the park with The Love List. In the lobby after the show, I was almost giddy, eavesdropping on very happy people as they made their way outside. “Wasn’t that fantastic!” said one beaming lady, to no one in particular. “I loved it!” responded someone else. “I don’t know how they do it.”
Obviously, Terry Rabine does.
The Lake George, NY Dinner Theatre at the Holiday Inn presents The Love List by Norm Foster. Directed by TErry Rabine. July 12-October 20, 2012. Luncheon Matinees every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and select Saturdays (7/21, 8/18, 9/15, 9/22, 10/6, 10/20); seating at 11:15AM; curtain at 1PM. Dinner shows every Wednesday thru Saturday night; seating at 6:30PM; curtain at 8PM.www.lakegeorgedinnertheatre.com Box Office 518 306-4404.