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Enter Love at Quest Theatre Ensemble | Theater review

A well-intentioned new romcom musical plays to few of Quest’s strengths.

This well-intentioned new musical about couples stranded at an airport bar during a snowstorm plays to few of Quest’s strengths. The company’s best work (Evolution/Creation, for example) is full of creepy masks and homespun puppets—odd, ebullient creations fit for a medieval May Day celebration. Here, Quest takes the romcom route, and the seams quickly start to show: The plywood-and-canvas set is clunky, the shadowy lighting haphazard, the singing erratic at best.

Lynn Lupold’s score isn’t Sondheim, but it has its catchy moments. The lyrics, however, are rife with fuzzy emotional swells: “Your love captures moonbeams like stars fill the sky.” While these inscrutable effusions appear genuinely felt, the play follows five couples with a seemingly endless stream of ballads. They eventually test our patience.

Ashley Stein and Stephen Barker turn in affecting, low-key performances as Angie and Tommy, a couple bidding good-bye as Angie heads to war. They also have the strongest dialogue. The rest of the book, unfortunately, is a mess, packed with cringe-y, Inge-y quips: “Did she leave you with the honeydew? You know, ‘Honey, do this; honey, do that.’ ” The central character of bartender Alex (Brianna Schumacher) is a particular befuddlement. Her love plot—she’s head over heels for a married pilot—feels wildly contrived. Moreover, she spends much of the play looming behind her bar, smirking eerily at lovelorn patrons. The effect of such a spooky, misguided leading lady is at first compelling (and oddly hilarious). But two-plus hours in, the show’s still going, and suddenly it isn’t.

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