A Time for Love

At the Rubicon Theatre, Saturday, February

Reviewed by Bojana Hill

This musical valentine is a witty, charming, and poignant story
of love and marriage created by Tony-award winner Richard Maltby
Jr. and Grammy- and Academy Award-winner David Shire. The two
artists may know something about successful relationships, apart
from a conventional marriage, as they have successfully
collaborated for almost 50 years. The audience’s warm response to
A Time for Love suggested they identified with the show’s
universal message, which is that love and marriage are

Lois Robbins and Brian Sutherland are onstage for 70 minutes
without an intermission. The initial image of a smiling couple
appears center stage in a large picture frame, only to be followed
by a series of musical vignettes, each suggesting a phase in a
relationship. Additional video images of local couples are
projected on two screens in both corners of the stage — brief
punctuations illuminating the characters’ experiences onstage.

Asked about their courtships, break-ups, and precepts for
enduring love, these real-life characters were not only somehow
familiar, but also hilarious: “Love comes and goes, but the brisket
is forever!” quips one husband, when prompted to define the mystery
of attraction and love. Similarly, the couple onstage — known
simply as Man and Woman — use humor to describe the awkward, yet
exhilarating sparks that led to their marriage.

The musical tells what happens after they lived happily ever
after in a sequence of melodies, each resembling a one-act play, as
the director Silberman puts it. Some lyrics, such as “the longing
is a given,” accentuate nostalgia, while others expose the couple’s
dismay at their unmet expectations. The Man foresaw marriage as an
inner earthquake, with great turmoil and upheaval, but instead he
and his partner are merely comfortable with each other, like
worn-out shoes. They also sing of the “parent paradox” — the desire
that children never grow up, only to await eagerly their change.
The intimate scenes depicting the busy couple juggling the demands
of career, marriage, and newborn baby are real, honest, and
bittersweet. As the couple drifts apart, the number “There”
foreshadows the impending divorce. If the separation was
predictable, the unexpected twist in the end surely is not.

Contributing to the show’s hopeful spirit are some well-known
melodies from Maltby and Shire’s previous Broadway hit musicals and
revues, such as Baby, Big, Starting Here, Starting Now, and
Closer than Ever
. Five newly composed songs were incorporated
into the evening’s performance, but that might change. Robbins’s
lithe movements and Sutherland’s athletic, all-American good looks
were a pleasure to behold.


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