ROMANCIN' THE ONE I LOVE, by John R. Briggs and Dennis West, directed by Briggs, with Camilla Scott, Brad Aspel, Melissa Thomson, Michael Fletcher, Larry Mannell, Gerry Salsberg, Paul Nolan, Derek Marshall and Lloyd Culbreath. Presented by Musical Bard at the Winter Garden Theatre (189 Yonge). Open-ended run, Monday-Saturday at 8 pm, matinees Wednesday and Saturday 2 pm. $25-$65. 872-5555. Rating: NN
The Taming Of The Shrew offers problems to contemporary directors -- we'll see how Sarah Stanley deals with them in Canadian Stage's outdoor Shrew later this summer -- but there can't be a duller version than this John R. Briggs and Dennis West musical take on it.
Set in 30s Florida and New York, its blend of Shakespearean lines and pop-cult slang offers ersatz period tunes -- "sort of in the style of" is as close as it gets to a real 30s feel -- a dreadful book and paper-thin characters who, under Briggs's direction, rarely develop beyond bad vaudeville impersonations. The over-the-top shtick isn't even well done, despite some talent in the cast.
The production -- which might suit summer cottage-country audiences on a hot and nothing-to-do evening -- is enlivened only by Sergio Trujillo's choreography and some sharp performances by Camilla Scott and Brad Aspel as Kate and Petruchio, despite a lack of emotional spark between the pair. Both actors deserve better material. And it's time Trujillo stopped saving bad book musicals and started working on a vehicle where his creative partners are as talented as he is.