Love Actually Live Returns to the Wallis

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For the Record, Love Actually Live, now playing at the Wallis Annenberg Center for The Performing Arts, pairs live performances from the movie’s soundtrack with lots of clips (watch for a gyrating Hugh Grant and a young, pre Walking Dead Andrew Lincoln) from Richard Curtis’ hit 2003 movie. The melding movie clips and live music creates Christmas magic in Beverly Hills.

A huge beautiful Christmas tree centers multiple screens that move in and out of Matt Steinbrenner’s wood, brick and stone set creating a unique multidimensional experience. We also loved the pop-up musicians in the audience for “All You Need is Love.”

The nine storylines from the film, dealing with heartbreak, new and unrequited love, are enhanced by the live performances which include standout performances of “The Trouble with Love Is”; “Here With Me”, “Both Sides Now” and a knockout performance of “White Christmas.”

Love Actually examines the complexities of the one emotion that connects us all: love. Among the characters explored are David (Hugh Grant), the handsome newly elected British prime minister who falls for a young junior staffer (Martine McCutcheon), Sarah (Laura Linney), a graphic designer whose devotion to her mentally ill brother complicates her love life, and Harry (Alan Rickman), a married man tempted by his attractive new secretary.

As a longtime fan of the film, I missed “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” which I’m guessing ran into trademark issues and couldn’t be included in “Love Actually Live.”

Director Anderson Davis does a stellar job of melding the movie and live music mediums, especially by positioning performers all around the audience. Rex Smith steals the show with a surprise ending, reminding us, just in time for Christmas, that love is all around us.

“Love Actually Live” is playing through December 29, running time 2 hours and 40 minutes. For ticket information and show listings, visit www.thewallis.org.

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Shaena Engle
Shaena Engle is a food, lifestyle and travel writer for a variety of publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Pasadena magazine, AOL, The Daily Meal, The San Diego Union Tribune and PokerPro magazine. She has interviewed top chefs including Lidia Bastianich, Michael Chiarello, Hubert Keller, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Jose Andres, and many others. She has authored three books, The Cheap Bastard’s Guide to Las Vegas (Globe Pequot Press), The Best Places to Kiss in Southern California (Beginning Press, a romantic travel guide) and Silver Linings: Triumphs of The Chronically Ill and Physically Challenged (Prometheus Books).  She is also an amateur magician and often writes on gambling, poker and magical happenings.  She also is a freelance consultant on restaurant, food, travel and hospitality public relations and marketing efforts.
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