Paramour: Theater review by David Cote
The global neocircus giant Cirque du Soleil does things no one else on Broadway can. Its acrobats execute quadruple backflips off a teeterboard, their heels seeming to brush the rigging high above the stage. They contort their bodies into positions that would cripple even the supplest chorus girl. There’s a reason the Tonys doesn’t award Best Trapeze Artist: We’re talking ultra-rare talents here. What Cirque cannot do, alas, is craft a decent Broadway musical. Paramour is a desperately mediocre (if extravagant) song-and-dance affair tricked out with specialty acts that are far more engaging than the dopey romantic triangle meant to hold our attention.
Said love story involves megalomaniacal movie director A.J. Golden (Jeremy Kushnier), ingénue-chanteuse Indigo (Ruby Lewis) and her songwriting partner Joey (Ryan Vona). Per the program, we’re in “The golden age of Hollywood,” crammed with gaudy Art Deco interiors and soundstage clowns mugging like crazy. In search of a muse, A.J. discovers Indigo warbling in a speakeasy, signs her as his next star and proceeds to muscle in between her and Joey. Although we’re repeatedly told that A.J. is a visionary auteur, he excels mainly at abusing employees between inane takes of jugglers and tumblers. Joey mopes on the sidelines, pining for Indigo and struggling to pen the perfect love song for her. Rather than being forced to choose which man to love, Indigo is trapped between a shouty sociopath and a milquetoast tunester.
So Paramour has profound book problems, generic old-timey music and wince-inducing lyrics. The real fun (and beauty) happens when the hokey dialogue ends and the artists get to show their wares. This includes the “Filmstrip” sequence, in which performers in seven cells create the illusion of looking at a giant piece of celluloid. The love triangle is dramatized in a lovely second-act hand-to-trapeze routine, in which a lithe and apparently weightless performer wafts from stage to air, accompanied by two men. And there’s a climactic rooftop chase scene at the end of the show that is utterly ridiculous but features some terrific trampoline work. Still, you leave wishing the creative team had hired proven talents from real Broadway musicals or else, like shrewd moviemakers, left half of the material on the cutting-room floor.—David Cote
Lyric Theatre (Broadway). Conceived and directed by Philippe Decouflé. Music by Bob & Bill (Guy Dubuc and Marc Lessard). Lyrics by Andreas Carlsson. With Jared Kushnier, Ruby Lewis, Ryan Vona. Running time: 2hrs 15mins. One intermission.
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