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Theatre Review (LA): Justin Love at the Celebration Theatre

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Justin Love is a new musical that explores the whole phenomenon of coming out when you are a known figure. In the last year we have had several prominent figures from news, sports, and hip-hop decide that their time to announce that they are gay is now. Unfortunately there are hundreds, perhaps thousands more celebrities who have chosen to stay in the closet. Not one major movie star has outed himself and if someone else tries to out them that person is liable to be sued.

Justin Love features such a closeted celebrity. Justin Rush is married, though many think there is a contract involved. Problems start when Justin meets a young Hollywood hopeful, fresh off the farm as it were, who also happens to work for Justin’s PR firm. Justin’s wife, a fellow celebrity named Amanda Bell, simultaneously runs into an old flame from her past whom she is still in love with.

Complications ensue for each couple. Justin’s love, Chris Andrews, has a couple of rather dizzy and starstruck roommates. Justin’s publicist, Buck Ralston (a true horror), is dead set against the match. Amanda’s love, Mitch Mathews, happens to be a paparazzo, and when pictures get published of the two guys kissing, all hell breaks loose. But this is a love story so it all works out in the end.

Adam Huss (a real hunk) is suitably sultry as the star. Tyler Lydon as Chris Andrews has a good voice but overplays the “I’m a rube” bit too much. Alet Taylor, an audience favorite, overplays the part of the publicist in the extreme. Tyler’s two roommates are just too silly for words. Only Ciaran McCarthy as Amanda’s old flame and Carrie St. Louis, who plays Amanda, seem to have found the right balance. Even the direction by Michael Mathews and choreography by Janet Roston are not up to their past work.

The book by Patricia Cotter and David Elzer does have its fun moments and even tender notes, but the music was not memorable and there were too many words for the musical line. I was disappointed in Lori Scarlet’s music because I had like her Breakup Notebook in the past.

Despite my reservations, the audience loved the show and I suspect it will have a long run here and elsewhere. The story is a sweet love story and timely to say the least. Justin Love will play at the Celebration Theatre until November 18.

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