Dominique Plaisant, Glenn Seven Allen, Trisha Rapier,
Kevin Vortmann, and Monica L. Patton in For Lovers Only
(© Carol Rosegg)
Dominique Plaisant, Glenn Seven Allen, Trisha Rapier,
Kevin Vortmann, and Monica L. Patton in For Lovers Only
(© Carol Rosegg)
For Lovers Only (Love Songs Nothing But Love Songs), the new cabaret-style musical revue at New World Stages, might best be characterized as the longest medley ever to hit the stage, as five talented performers cover parts of 85 songs in just under two hours.

While seasoned theatergoers will certainly recognize much of the music in the show -- which has been created by director Christopher Scott and musical director Ken Lundie from a concept by Nancy Friday -- they will likely be disappointed that they never get to hear a complete song and are instead treated to just enough of a tune to invoke a warm feeling or fond memory. Ultimately, audience members seeking a truly romantic evening might find snuggling on the couch with a well-chosen iTunes playlist infinitely more satisfying.

The first act, which attempts to deliver a story of two couples, primarily uses show tunes by Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers (with both Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II), and Stephen Sondheim. The second half of the show -- which abandons the narrative concept without explanation -- features more songs from Broadway and also a bevy of pop tunes by the likes of Elton John, Amanda McBroom, Billy Joel, and Stevie Wonder.

Beyond the brevity of the selections and plot issues, there are other difficulties with the show's construction. For example, while the creators understand that up-tempo numbers must be interspersed with ballads and slower tunes, songs are too often put alongside one another in ways that jar. For example, the abrupt shift from the operatic "And This Is My Beloved" into the popish "What I Did For Love" almost causes whiplash.

Thankfully, the many selections in the show are delivered not only capably, but also sometimes commandingly. Kevin Vortmann displays a surprising versatility throughout, offering up not only a few silkily smooth bars of "People Will Say We're in Love," but also a giddily exuberant take on the 1950s doo-wop hit, "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" Glenn Seven Allen, who adopts a sort of ironic and aloof demeanor and delivery style early on, displays both a powerful voice and genuine passion in "This Nearly Was Mine."

Although Monica L. Patton's saucy and jazzy stylings are not heard often enough, she does get some shining moments, such as "I'm Not at All in Love." Trisha Rapier proves adept with a wide variety of material -- although she has a tendency to over-illustrate a song's lyrics -- and imbues songs like "My Man" with deeply felt emotion. Dominique Plaisant stands out with several of the showier numbers, such as "You Made Me Love You" -- in which she seems to channel the red-hot mamas of a time long past -- and a rocking rendition of "The Rose."

Scenic designer Peter R. Feuchtwanger uses swaths of purple and lilac fabric draped simply in front of black curtains to instill a certain elegance to the show. Still, the industrial silver chairs and stools -- and a rolling banquette -- make the show look like it is set in the lobby of a boutique hotel.