Are they doing a cha cha? Is it a hustle? It’s a bit of both in a Bossa Nova choreographed to “The Girl from Ipanema” a musical number in Trip of Love, a psychedelic love valentine to the 60s professed in song and dance, which opened Off-Broadway on Sunday. If you, like me, squeal “Oooh, I love that one” when you hear the song “You Don’t Own Me” and “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted” and “California Dreamin’” you’ll be screaming throughout the entire performance of Trip of Love. (If you hear ‘Trippin’ love you wouldn’t be far off.)
James Walski has created an exciting night of dance-concert-theater for those who, like me, love watching dancing, almost as much as you love to dance. Though apparently classically trained, (Joffrey, American Ballet Theater) he brings his Las Vegas sensibilities to bear in this production, as he hasn’t met a 60s song that couldn’t use a Vegas showgirl or Chippendale abs. Go-Go dancers, see-thru dresses, Day Glo paint being applied to a topless woman in ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone’ (though less naked than the ones you can see if you walk three blocks east on 42nd St): these are some of the visuals incorporated into the show.
White patent leather boots, 60s hair dos, tie dye, even more eye candy comes your way with the eye popping costumes (500 of them) designed by Tony award winner Gregg Barnes which left me wishing I could somewhere buy the purple and yellow green bathing suit and cover up from the “Wipe Out” number.
This thoroughly enjoyable musical will help you “Forget all your troubles, forget all your cares” as the lyrics to “Downtown” exhort and will be especially popular with international baby boomers who remember the music, even if they don’t speak English. Not a problem in this dialogue- free, plot- free song-and-dance show. There might have been a plot as tripoflove.com offers that it is “about a young girl’s journey down the rabbit hole and up to an ultimate musical high.”
Besides the non-stop singing and dancing, the cast is called upon to fly in a hot air balloon, sing in Portuguese and ride a scooter, though in the performance I saw there was a mishap when the scooter slid out from under the rider and off the stage. House lights up and luckily and miraculously no one was hurt. This rendition of ‘It’s Not Unusual” featured an unusual PA announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, a short pause while we get the Vespa from the orchestra pit.” The conductor must have good reflexes as indeed the show commenced within a few minutes.
In addition to the conductor, other notable performers include Laurie Wells, with her Judy Collins / Stockard Channing vibe and Dionne Figgins as Jennifer in ‘These Boots are Made for Walkin’.