Rating: 3/5 stars
From the title, the picture, the synopsis, and the cast, I came in with pretty low expectations. I surprisingly attended opening night this past Monday because I got a $5 ticket...yes I know, doesn't bode well if they're basically handing out tickets. I think what I was most worried about was that it would be over-the-top and not in a funny way, but in a cringing way. What actually happened was I laughed, I liked the characters, and I left the theater feeling happy. Obviously that doesn't make a show a hit, but sometimes it's nice to just go to the theatre and simply smile.
For those of you who know anything about opera, this is Renee Fleming's, yes THE Renee Fleming, Broadway debut. And it's not a musical! But don't worry, she sings a few things and you understand quickly why she's an opera legend. What's fun is she's playing an opera legend called "La Diva" and is married to a conducting legend called "Maestro." The silly plot is that they're both on the bottom swing of their careers, both incredibly self-centered, and both hire on ghost-writers to write their autobiographies because they're running out of money. Also they're both very competitive so they're trying to finish their book before the other. Not the most inventive plot, but it was surprisingly entertaining.
As the NY Times pointed out, which I agree with, Renee doesn't have an evil bone in her body and although she is an opera star, she can't truly relate to her character. In other words, she's just too nice. But instead of seeing that as a flaw, I found it endearing. And from articles I've read, Renee is so honored and humbled to be on Broadway. So to me, it was almost funnier to see her pretending to be this insanely egotistical character than it would have been to see a better actor being a dramatic diva. Douglas Sills, as the Italian "Maestro," was hilarious. He was a perfect cliche Italian man. The accent, the way he carried himself, how he was a womanizer, the passion, the hot-headedness, and the ridiculous sayings he used (spooky helper instead of ghost-writer) were all on point. And I can say that it wasn't too much because I used to work with an older Italian man who was EXACTLY like this. Jerry O'Connell and Anna Chlumsky played their roles fine but the show wasn't really about them. The two butlers however, were amazing. They were sassy and about as dramatic as La Diva and Maestro.
There were definitely a lot of opera jokes and some went over my head, but the show was a comedic love letter to the opera which I can appreciate. But besides just being silly, it ended up having a nice message and left me with a few things to think about. There were some really touching moments and especially the last scene. They ended up realizing how much they appreciated and needed each other. They talked about how the youth have so much time ahead of them, whereas they felt they just had whatever time was left. And that after your career and looks wane, you have to lean on those who have been on the same journey with you. They opened my heart and I thanked them with my big applause.
There are plenty of better shows on Broadway right now and I doubt this will last very long, but it was funny and heartwarming and I'm glad I saw it. Also, shoutout to Trixie the Pomeranian (named Puccini) who did a marvelous job.
Who should see this show:
- If you love the opera or Renee Fleming
- If you're looking for a cute comedy
How to get tickets:
- $25 balcony seats: https://www.telecharge.com/Broadway/Living-on-Love/Ticket
- $45 Mezz: http://www.playbill.com/club/offer_detail/living-on-love