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THEATER BEAT

Musical 'Love 40' Needs Shaping Up

June 26, 1998|F. KATHLEEN FOLEY

A few witty lyrics and one-liners do not a musical make. A creaky new musical about lovelorn fortysomething singles, "Love 40" at the Hudson could use a squirt of WD-40, not to mention plenty of editorial carpentry work, before it swings smoothly on its hinges.

Director Theresa Larkin plays Clare, a divorcee who magnetically attracts inappropriate men. Lesley Corne is Clare's best friend Teri, a poet who has shied away from men since the death of her lover 10 years ago. Eric Love is Alan, a depressed composer whose wife has just dumped him. Kevin Skousen plays Clare's various disastrous dates and boyfriends.

Stephen Downs' lyrics contain flashes of genuine invention, but Downs' music is unmemorable, and the book he has written with Toni Handcock Downs is overlong and overwrought. Even genuinely funny bits--such as Clare's increasingly frustrated rants to her unseen psychologist--lose steam through constant, numbing repetition. When Teri and Alan, who start off writing music together, finally fall in love, Teri dumps a load of trumped-up angst about her long-dead lover into the already belabored plot.

Skousen is charming in his comic relief roles, and Larkin enjoys the play's funniest moments--on stage. As director, however, Larkin needs to jack up the pace, smooth out the staging and trim fully 45 minutes from this piece of lumber before it begins to remotely resemble a play.

*

* "Love 40," Hudson Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Runs indefinitely. $25. (818) 789-8499. Running time: 2 hours, 45 minutes.

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