Ellen Dostal – BroadwayWorld
The countdown to Christmas begins and ends with an all-out love blitz this year in For the Record’s latest world premiere, LOVE ACTUALLY LIVE, a hybrid entertainment that blends scenes from Richard Curtis‘ 2003 film Love Actually with live performances of the movie’s soundtrack. Co-produced by the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, it is a celebration of love in all its messy, complicated, wonderful glory in a Las Vegas-style vision designed to impress.
Multiple screens are incorporated into an enormous breakaway set (scenic design by Matt Steinbrenner, lighting by Michael Berger, video design by Aaron Rhyne) that opens up in a number of exciting ways to create the many interiors and exteriors, intimate moments, large production numbers, and quirky configurations needed for the performance. An exceptional 15-piece orchestra frames the stage with most of its members positioned on a raised landing on either side of a twinkling Christmas tree. Strings, and conductor Jesse Vargas (who is also responsible for the musical supervision and terrific arrangements and orchestrations), are located downstage in their own box. The effect is overwhelmingly beautiful.
Now running through December 31