I Love My Wife

Cy Coleman’s 1977 wife-swapping musical feels almost as if it’s been steeped in amber, providing a portal back to a pre-AIDS era of swingin’ and sexual rebellion. Burly Alvin (Jason Alexander) flunks a “How Repressed Are You?” test in an issue of Cosmo and realizes he needs to pep up his sex life. His solution is to plot a ménage à trois with himself, his wife, Cleo (Vicki Lewis), and Monica (Lea Thompson), the wife of his free-loving best pal, publicist Wally (Patrick Cassidy). Unfortunately for Alvin, Cleo misinterprets the plans and assumes the party is going to be between her, Alvin and Wally. Complications ensue when the four best friends meet on Christmas Eve to consummate their misbegotten four-way. Ho ho ho, indeed. Director Larry Moss’ splendid production of Coleman’s odd musical boasts unusually deft and focused comic timing, much of it the result of the agreeably neurotic interplay between Alexander’s Alvin and Lewis’ Cleo, which strongly puts one in mind of Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. Michael Skloff’s upbeat musical direction is just as tightly assured and winning, particularly during the unexpectedly heartfelt finale, a tribute to true love. The show’s faults are ultimately those of the original musical. The incidents of undercover naked Kama Sutra poses and hashish smoking fit oddly with Coleman and lyricist Michael Stewart’s traditional belt-and-ballad show tunes — and the music itself has an incongruently fusty feel. Brentwood Theatre on the Veterans Administration grounds, 11301 Wilshire Blvd., Brentwood; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; through December 14. (213) 365-3500. A Reprise Theatre Company production.
Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Starts: Dec. 3. Continues through Dec. 14, 2008

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