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.