By Victoria L. Dammer
Everyone who has reached their 30s has had some hilarious and painful experiences with love and friendship and all the in-between emotions that come with navigating adult relationships. The off-Broadway play, Love Quirks, The New Musical, currently at the new AMT Theater at 354 West 45th Street, explores the trials and tribulations of four roommates caught in life’s love struggle in this funny and touching production we can relate to.
Love Quirks is set in present-day Manhattan and based on a book by Mark Childers, with music and lyrics by Seth Bisen-Hersh. The story mentions that we have Tinder and Grindr in this era, making the dating world more complex and stressful. The narrative is poignant for every audience member, touching many emotions like divorce, infidelity, fear of relationships, and fear of letting go.
Nice guy Chris (Matthew Schatz) has just left his fiance, who cheated on him. Having no place to stay, he hooks up with his old friend Ryan (Erin Lamar), a gay schoolteacher who is having trouble making relationships last more than a few months. In a tiny apartment, Ryan lives with Chris’s past love Stephanie (Lauren Testerman), who is about to get divorced if she can just let go, and Ryan’s former lover Lili (Maggie McDowell), who still thinks she’s in love with Ryan. Close quarters and peculiar intimacy habits regarding love bring everyone’s conflict to the forefront. Sexual tensions rise, but eventually, each roommate moves on in life and finds happiness and contentment.
The entire cast sang the opening song, It Never Works, introducing the audience to what the four have gone through in the past. It was an excellent use of music to explain each character’s backstories when you have four forceful personalities on stage. The audience truly loved Chris’s opening song, Let’s Just Be Friends, showcasing his powerful singing voice since most of us can remember having said this or have had this said to us. It can be crushing, and the message hits hard when Chris sings it to Stephanie.
Lili and Ryan’s comedic song Haven’t You Noticed brought a resounding round of applause as Ryan tried to explain he was gay to Lili, and she continued to think otherwise as she planned their wedding in the past.
Stephanie’s Hey is her acceptance song for finally getting over her ex-husband and her willingness to enter the dating world again, no matter how scary it may be.
Bisen-Hersh perfectly weaves the lyrics and music to enhance the story throughout the two-hour production in this fantastic new theater. The show initially ran two years ago before the pandemic shuttered Broadway and Off-Broadway. Theatergoers are glad to see the return of this exciting new musical that was the recipient of four 2021 Broadway World Off-Broadway Awards, including Best Production of a Musical, Best New Score, Best New Book, and Best Direction of a musical.
Love Quirks, A New Musical (Based on Actual Events) at the AMT Theater.
WITH Erin Lamar, Maggie McDowell, Matthew Schatz, and Lauren Testerman.
Music and lyrics by Seth Bisen Hersh; book by Mark Childers; lighting/sound design by Rocky Noel; set design by Josh Iacovelli; assistant stage manager Tylar Traum; costume design by Edward Kershaw; musical direction by Austin Nuckols; production stage manager Brent Michael Jones; directed by Brian Childers.
AMT Theater, 354 West 45th Street.
Production runs two hours with a ten minute intermission. The show runs through September 2.