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Off-Broadway Review

Bloodsong of Love

Bloodsong of Love
Photo Source: Peter James Zielinski
As book writer, Joe Iconis has devised a clever premise for the potentially hilarious musical "Bloodsong of Love," commissioned from him by Ars Nova, which also produces. Riffing on spaghetti westerns, Iconis tells the tale of a Don Quixote–like man called the Musician (the appealingly stalwart Eric William Morris), whose true love, Santa Violetta (played with fiery imperiousness and a thick Spanish-Italian accent by MK Lawson), is abducted by Lo Cocodrillo (a captivating, giggle-inducing Jeremy Morse), a smarmy musical star of the Old West. That Lo Cocodrillo's instrument of choice is a kazoo and that the Musician and Violetta meet after smearing themselves with blood from a fish she's just gutted says everything about the tenor of the show, which invites theatergoers to laugh heartily as a revenge drama unfolds.

While there are laughs to be had in Iconis' book, too often he dulls them. For each precisely aimed jab at the genre or at society in general, there are a bushel of ideas and jokes that only reiterate what the audience has already heard. This failing extends to Iconis' pleasantly tuneful country-western rock songs, which latch on to an intriguing or even hilarious conceit and then belabor it. Iconis' songwriting ability does shine in two numbers: A musical prayer offered up by the Musician's dim-witted sidekick, Banana (a terrifically funny and sensitive turn from Lance Rubin), touches immeasurably, and a dream sequence featuring the Musician and his love is pungent.

Director John Simpkins deploys his ensemble—which also includes Jason "SweetTooth" Williams and Katrina Rose Dideriksen—ably, and the action unfolds with flair and rapidity, thanks in no small part to Michael Schweikardt's clever set design. And while Chris Dallos' lighting creates a warm and occasionally surreal atmosphere, the real glow comes from Iconis' and the show's promise—which could be fulfilled with the right revisions.

Presented by and at Ars Nova, 511 W. 54th St., NYC. April 15–May 9. Wed.–Sun., 8 p.m. (212) 352-3101, (866) 811-4111,, or Casting Consultant: MelCap Casting.

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