"TRIUMPH OF LOVE"
 QUIRKY FUNNY MUSICAL COMEDY
Dimas (Jeremy Vega) goes for the apple from Leonide (Erin Anderson) while Corine (Kelli Workman) and Harlequin (Chach Snook,standing) keep an eye out.

And now for something completely different, the Roadrunner Theatre Company has opened a quirky musical comedy for the modern ear, based on an 18th century play by Pierre de Marivaux, “Triumph of Love.”

Built from a lovely mix of clever puns and vaudeville schtick, this flowering show with 16 pieces composed by Jeffrey Stock, lyrics by Susan Birkenhead and book by James Magruder, has great fun with the classical stage farce form which the cast presents in stylish period costumes.

For compulsive readers of the fine print in theater programs, “Triumph of Love” ran briefly on Broadway in 1997. Betty Buckley and F. Murray Abraham played the two responsible adults (relatively speaking), Hesione and Hemocrates.

Announced as the final production in Roadrunner's 2016-2017 season of eight shows, “Triumph of Love” is the young company's most ambitious production yet.

Chach Snook directs and plays the energized comic role of Harlequin, leading six additional players through an evening of joyful double entendre and mistaken identities, women pretending to be men and (if I counted correctly) Princess Leonide (Erin Anderson) wooing three lovers that included representatives from both sexes.

At Roadrunner, Jodi Darling plays Hesione and Kit Runge is Hemocrates. While bringing to their own roles more maturely shaded moments of rapture and rue, it is still the younger lovers who steal each night with the touching fragility of their unguarded hearts.

All of this becomes possible with only a modest suspension of disbelief. The dialogue is quite clever, sounding classical but feeling modern in its springboard of love at first sight. That bouncy romantic would be Leonide who has already tumbled head over heels over Agis (Tyler Wright), a dashing young prince who would much rather make love than war.

Completing the coupling opportunities are Kelli Workman as Corine, maidservant to Princess Leonide and, in a mostly comedy role, the bearded Jeremy Vega as the gardener Dimas.

Our setting is the Italian-flavored garden of siblings Hesione and Hemocrates, a philosopher committed to the power of reason. In this elegant setting, the exiled Prince Agis of Sparta feels forced to seek revenge and regain his throne by assassinating Princess Leonide, whose unseen family has usurped the throne from his family.

Leonide knows nothing of this revenge thing, she only knows she loves Agis, even though they have never met. Being female, Leonide and Corine decide they will dress as men and go calling on Agis, bravely entering the court of Hemocrates where reason reigns in perpetuity and matters of the heart have no consequence.

So, right away you can see the possibilities. The music is varied and delightful, at times somewhat operatic, at other times reminiscent of Sondheim, along with lots of other stops among the pops, as well. All the voices, being some of Tucson's best known, are strong and clear.

The cast is nicely supported by the piano accompaniment of music director Marie Sierra.

“Triumph of Love” runs through Aug. 27 with performances Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m., in the Roadrunner Theater, 8892 E. Tanque Verde Road.

Tickets are $24 general admission, $22 students/seniors, $18 military and groups of 10 or more. For details and reservations, 520-207-2491, or visit roadrunnertheatrecompany.org