This hilarious musical adaptation of Pierre de Marivaux’s ‘Triumph of Love’ filled the L. Howard Fox Theater with laughter from beginning to end.
The Triumph of Love has been around for nearly 300 years and although it premiered in 1732, this riotous performance did not gain any popularity until around the 1900’s. Under the direction of Mark Hardy, accompanied by musical director and pianist Gregory Dlugos, Montclair and its surrounding communities were given the chance to experience the musical for themselves.
“It has always been a mystery to me that this rollicking and faithful adaption of the wonderful Marivaux romantic farce was not a hit on Broadway,” said Hardy. “It ran but briefly in 1997, despite a sharp book, an innovative and tuneful score with clever lyrics, a cast of absolute standouts, inventively appealing designs, and delighted audiences who seemed to eat the show up like a French feast. Theater folk who saw it tend to light up when it’s mentioned.”
Hardy and Dlugos worked extensively on putting this show together to compliment the intimate venue of the L. Howard Fox Theater along with the small cast that this performance required. The cast is made up of a total of seven talented actors and a reduced orchestra size including a woodwind quintet, cello, piano, and percussion.
“Being faithful to the authors’ intentions while being creative within its structure is challenging and invigorating, and working with students who are so talented and driven keeps me on my toes,” said Dlugos.
The Triumph of Love is set in Ancient Greece centering on Spartan princess Léonide who is in search of Agis, son of the overthrown king. She disguises herself as a male, along with her servant Corine, in order to enter the home of Hermocrate’s, where women are forbidden. Now, going by the names of Phocion and Troy, one by one the girls seduce the members of the house. Throughout her mission for love, she runs into complications and continues to lie about who she is. Her numerous identities and acts of seduction cause her some trouble along the way as a number of people begin to fall for her (or him).
The show was put together quite nicely. The entire cast was evidently committed to their parts, so much that it seemed natural. The costumes portrayed the time period, while the dialogue seemed very much modernized. The shift between acting and singing gave the actors the ability to portray both their unique postures and strong vocals. Ultimately, the performance pleased all audiences and left their stomach’s trembling from laughter.
“The musical Triumph of Love is mostly produced, and rarely, by university theater programs and the occasional regional theater brave enough to risk unfamiliar titles,” said Hardy. “It deserves far more attention than it gets. It’s a cautionary example of the injuries critics can do to little-shows-that-could when they review without taking into account what’s happening in the audience around them. Isn’t the audience the whole point? Happily for us, it’s also a tribute to the resilience of the art and its capacity to persist in the face of detractors. Who knew farce had such muscle?”
Once again, Peak Performances granted the community a wonderful and affordable production on a professional level. Audiences were thoroughly impressed as they followed along with Léonide’s humorous journey for love. Tickets for upcoming shows are available at the Alexander Kasser Theater box office or peakperfs.org.