An Opera-Style Musical From Lloyd Webber
`Aspects of Love' is complex, opulent. THEATER: REVIEW
NEW YORK — ASPECTS OF LOVE Musical adapted by Andrew Lloyd Webber from the novel by David Garnett, with music by Mr. Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Don Black and Charles Hart. Directed by Trevor Nunn. At the Broadhurst Theatre. FROM youthful infatuation to lifelong devotion to trivial pursuit, ``Aspects of Love'' celebrates the raptures and considers the perils of amorous entanglements - all in the lushly musical idiom of Andrew Lloyd Webber. The production is opulently spectacular. The collaborators shrewdly employ every talent and device of musical showmanship to create a romantic aura.
Faithfully adapting Mr. Garnett's slight 1955 novel, Mr. Lloyd Webber has fashioned an ambitious opera-style work with a build-in air of theatrical glamour. After a 1964 prologue in which sadder and perhaps wiser Alexis Dillingham (Michael Ball) sings the recurring theme, ``Love Changes Everything,'' the play sets out to retrace Alex's poignant odyssey.
Dissolve to 1947 and a small provincial theater where Rose Vibert (Ann Crumb) and her fellow actors have just failed to win the locals with Ibsen. A smitten 17-year-old fan, Alex persuades Rose to spend the two weeks until her next engagement at ``his'' villa in the Pyrenees. Actually, the villa belongs to his uncle, Sir George Dillingham (Kevin Colson), an English painter. Summoned by a telegram from his ancient gardener, Sir George arrives, only to express enthusiasm for his nephew's romantic enterprise.
Thus begins the long and complex tale of amatory relationships. An impulsive act of jealous violence by Alex ends his affair with Rose. Yet, although they never again become lovers, their relationship survives the separations resulting from her theatrical and his military career. Sir George and Rose ultimately marry, and their daughter, Jenny, grows into the charming teenager who develops the same desperate infatuation for Alex that he once cherished for her mother. When Sir George loses his money, Rose's flourishing stage and screen career supports the family in the style to which it is accustomed. Her widowhood brings a final twist to these aspects of love.
The largely sung dialogue of the richly melodic score - with its abundance of solos and ensembles - makes strong demands on the principals, most of which are admirably met. Mr. Colson triumphs as the kindest and most understanding of uncles, husbands, and fathers imaginable. In return, Lloyd Webber gives him some of the most winning songs. Mr. Ball performs attractively, sings well, and matures believably from callow youth to senior military man.
Danielle Du Clos as Jenny at 14 is an enchanting actress with a silvery voice. Miss Crumb faces the formidable task of winning the spectator's sympathy for the self-centered, casually unfaithful Rose. Crumb's clear vocalism is not helped by the amplification system. The cast includes Kathleen Row McAllen as bisexual Italian sculptress Giulietta Trapani, Walter Charles as an actor manager, and Deanna Du Clos as Jenny at age 12. Paul Bogaev conducts the fine musical performance.
``Aspects of Love'' is nothing if not spectacular in the production staged by Trevor Nunn and choreographed by Gillian Lynne. Responding to the demand for constantly changing milieu (41 scenes in two acts), designer Maria Bjornson has created a succession of atmospheric stage pictures capped at one point with an eye-popping mountain vista, lighted for full effect by Andrew Bridge.