Love and Lyrics Fill the Air in It's Only Life at Theatre Too

Theater Caps are bite-sized punch-packing capsule reviews by resident theater critic Elaine Liner. Use them as a reminder -- or a teaser, if you procrastinate -- of her full-length reviews in The Mixmaster's weekly sister.

Theatre Three and its downstairs lair, Theatre Too, are on a John Bucchino kick. The larger theater just ended a run of the composer's musical version of A Catered Affair. Now the small venue below has a 30-song revue of Bucchino songs in It's Only Life.

There's no plot, just music, as five pretty young singers move easily from song to song. If there's a theme to the evening, it's that love and loss are part of the larger picture of life. Each song is some variation on the "I'm afraid of being alone" refrain, but most take a turn to the upbeat. The cast is tops, with each singer getting a solo or two and then blending nicely into the harmonies of group numbers. Darius-Anthony Robinson, Jennifer Noth, Erica Harte, Angel Velasco and Seth Grugle succeed at not over-singing (in this small space they don't need microphones either) and only occasionally overdo the hugging-smiling bits.

Bucchino's music dips liberally into the styles of other composers who've influenced him. There are syncopated licks right out of Stephen Sondheim's show tunes and sometimes a hint of the warm jazz-folk meanderings of Joni Mitchell. Some songs sound like hymns, others like something from Jacques Brel.

Director Michael Serrecchia and pianist Terry Dobson have paced the show at a steady but relaxed tempo. Packing 30 numbers into less than two hours, this production gives Bucchino fans a buffet of his best stuff.

It's Only Life continues through December 11 at Theatre Too. Call 214-871-3300.

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