Theater Review: "Justin Love" At Celebration Theatre
Well, while "Justin Love," playing through November 18 at Celebration Theatre in West Hollywood, certainly doesn't steer clear of cliches, it does provide an interesting twist on the traditional "boy-meets-girl and they both find fulfillment in their art" story that is so often told of new Angelinos. For one, the show's mega-movie star, Justin Rush (Adam Huss) is a closeted gay man, married to his best friend, Amanda Bell (Carrie St. Louis), who, in turn, is in love with a man from her past, Mitch (Travis Leland, at this performance). To further spice things up, the show's protagonist, Chris (Tyler Ledon), newly arrived from Michigan, is living with his ex-boyfriend (Terrance Spencer) and said ex's new boyfriend (Grant Jordan)—while working for Justin's nightmarish publicist (Alet Taylor).
The cast certainly has some standouts, including the wickedly funny Taylor as Buck Ralston, who frequently steals scenes. Also engaging were Spencer and Jordan as Chris' roommates who just won't move out. Additionally, St. Louis has some lovely moments as Amanda, Justin's beard.
"Justin Love" is a show with a very contemporary musical theater feel to it, a sentiment that is particularly clear in its score (by Lori Scarlett and David Manning). Director Michael Matthews utilizes Celebration's small space interestingly. There is not much room for a "fourth wall" so occasionally, characters will look at members of the audience while they sing—which can be disconcerting in a traditionally-structured musical, like this one.
The show is not exactly full of surprises—nothing, from the story (by David Elzer and Bret Clader), to the lyrics (by Scarlett), to the score, is unexpected, while the acting and book (by Patricia Cotter and Elzer) often veer into the cliched and melodramatic. That being said, though, the show is a pleasant and diverting experience, and an interesting look at the politics of sexual orientation in Hollywood.