An interview with director Annabel Bolton about Walnut Street Theatre’s upcoming production of Love Story, written by Erich Segal with book and lyrics by Stephen Clark, and music and additional lyrics by Howard Goodall, this September 4-October 21.
Inspired by Erich Segal’s best-selling iconic novel, and one of the most romantic films of all time, this life-affirming musical will have you remembering the first time you fell in love. There was music in the air—and a feeling so powerful that no one and nothing could take it away. That music is in the air again with Love Story, the Musical. When Oliver Barrett IV wanders into a library in search of a book, he discovers Jenny Cavilleri. They came from different worlds. He was a Harvard man, she was Radcliffe. He was rich, she was poor. But they fell in love. This is their story. A celebration of love and life, Love Story, the Musicalwill win your heart… and it may just break it.
How does Love Story differ from the movie and the novel?
Other than the most obvious difference that it is a musical, the Erich Segal story itself is intact and holds all the memorable moments from the book and the movie. Enthusiastic fans may notice some differences that help the movement of the story in this staged version (for instance, the compression of two scenes into one to help the narrative flow). This very emotional story lends itself so well to being a musical and particularly with Howard Goodall’s delicate and evocative score.
How has the show evolved from Chichester to the West End to the U.S. premiere?
The essence of the original Chichester production remains. The writer Stephen Clark and composer Howard Goodall, along with the original creative team honed and refined their work for the move to London by cutting and adding both musically and literarily. The Chichester stage was an apron stage and a very intimate audience/performer experience, so the production also faced the very practical challenge of moving to a proscenium theatre. The loss of intimacy was a concern, but it didn’t lose any emotional impact in the move—if anything it enhanced it.
What are you and the writing team hoping to work on while preparing for this production?
There will be very little changed from London’s West End to the Walnut. We have a much bigger playing space in Philadelphia so there will be changes related to that in choreography and staging. Rehearsals in a new space with a new company always, and indeed must, generate change. Different actors bring wonderful new things to a production.
What drew you to this story?
I think anyone would be hard pushed to ignore such an emotional roller coaster of a tale. There aren’t many people that can’t relate to the main themes of love and loss and also to the wonderful, and sometimes difficult, relationships with our parents.
What is one thing that will surprise audiences who come to see the show?
I’m not sure I want to give this away… so I won’t. I will say that a story with such sad central themes can be uplifting, but I think even the most stoic of audiences will be surprised at how many tissues they need!
For more information about Love Story, please visit www.walnutstreettheatre.org.