THE TRIUMPH OF LOVE – Book by James Magruder; Lyrics by Susan Birkenhead; Music by Jeffrey Stock; Directed by Alex Romberg; Musical Direction by Mireya Rinna; Choreography by Lauren Russell.  Produced by Wheat Ridge Theatre Company (5455 West 38th Street, Wheat Ridge) through February 18.  Tickets available at wheatridgetheatrecompany.ticketspice.com. 

This comical farce has had a checkered career getting to its present production at Wheat Ridge Theatre Company.  Originally written in 1732 by Pierre de Marivaux to poor reviews, it closed after only six performances.  The French thought it unseemly for a woman to make romantic advances to three different people in the course of one play.  But that didn’t stop the French.  The national theatres of the era brought it back in 1912 and again in 1956.  This led to the musical in 1997 and a movie version in 2001.

The convoluted plot has a princess falling in love with a scholar after spotting him in a garden one afternoon.  She finds out that he is the rightful heir to the crown she holds and resolves to meet, woo, and give him his kingdom back in return for his eternal love.  To do this, she seeks to remove the suspicions of his guardian, an elder philosopher, and the guardian’s sister by convincing both that she – now disguised as a male student in search of a teacher – cares for each of them romantically.  While all the time, she is only trying to get closer to the young scholar who by now has been charged with the assassination of the usurper to the crown . . . . which is HER!  Aided and abetted by various castle employees, the story winds around and around in appealing circles to a happy ending. 

The music is spritely in some instances and somber in others.  The cruelty of the trick played on the elder brother and sister is expressed in “The Tree” in which they explain how their lives are unfruitful like a tiny tree. The various lackeys who have supported the princess’ efforts and find themselves unrewarded for it lament their lot in life in “The Henchmen are Forgotten,” slightly reminiscent of “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” from KISS ME KATE. The Harlequin gets to remind the audience of the duties of the “Classic Clown.” A happy ending is celebrated in “The Day of Days.” 

The players give joyful life to their characters and have fun providing laughs and music. Even the slighted brother (Jim Hayes) and sister (Erin Banta) are so silly, you can’t take their hurt seriously. The three Henchmen are the Gardener (Phi Johnson-Grin), the Harlequin (Emma Ackerman) and Corin, the Handmaiden (Cooper Rae). Their interactions add another layer of comic relief to an already funny script. Princess Leonide manages to give away both her heart and her crown, but not before she has some fun dressing as a boy and flirting with EVERYBODY. Kryssi Miller enters her role with enthusiasm. The bewildered scholar is played by Bruce Robinson with the befuddled air of someone who has had no public life and doesn’t have any idea of what is going on. 

The parameters of Wheat Ridge’s playing space do not allow for elaborate sets, but they always do a good job with setting the scene and making sure the audience is able to follow the story from one place to another. They also provided excellent tracks for accompaniment for the singers.  

If you can keep up with this roundelay of lovers, you’ll have a good time at this show. 

A WOW factor of 8!! 

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