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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Lovelace: A Rock Opera
A rock opera is the perfect form for the tragic, turbulent trajectory of Linda Lovelace (Katrina Lenk), born Boreman, star of the 1970s porn film "Deep Throat", still the top-selling movie of all time, in that and perhaps any genre. This sung-through rock opera, (book, music and lyrics by Anna Waronker and Charlotte Caffey, original concept and lyrics by Jeffrey Leonard Bowman) delivers a powerful musical interpretation of both her life and the porn world. The music alternates between throbbing rock and plaintive ballads without losing its coherence.
Linda's girl-next-door prettiness and domestic abuse by husband/dominator Chuck Traynor (Jimmy Swan) go far to absolve her from hee sexual stigmatization by women from her uptight alcoholic mother (Whitney Allen) to the feminists who rightly protested porn films. A teen-age mother, forced by her mother to give up her baby, Linda runs away to the big city where she promptly falls prey to Traynor who marries her and then beats her, both physically and emotionally, into a life of prostitution. When porn film producer Gerard Damiano (Alan Palmer) comes along, Traynor gets her cast and the rest is history. Eventually Linda divorces him, though she never gets a penny of "Deep Throat" money. She marries and has another child, writes a book to explain her life to her children and settles in Colorado until her death in a car crash in 2002.
The excellent cast is headed by Katrina Lenk, whose fresh beauty, charisma and vulnerability interpret Lovelace just the way she would have wished. Swan, whose solid experience in the rock genre gives him a definite edge, is appropriately disgusting as Traynor. Josh Greene is hedonistic and gorgeous as porn star Harry Reams, Linda's leading man, whose sense of fun makes her laugh, a note of levity which the production needs. Whitney Allen is an uptight Mrs. Boreman, whose narrow-mindedness, alcoholism and refusal to shelter Linda from her husband set her on the dark path downward or upward to tabloid notoriety and porn life. Kelly DeVoto as a young girl who wants to be a star and Sonya Bender as Linda's daughter Lindsay add appealing grace notes which round out this story.
One of the funniest lines in Waronker and Coffey's excellent libretto is "Oh, baby, don't stop" delivered with such an air of weary boredom by one of the hookers that it expresses the porn world in just four little words. The superb Ken Sawyer's vivid direction catches the nuances of the book and breaks the pounding rhythms of the porn world and the rock score into pulsing life.
Joel Daavid's production design incorporates the grungy backstage area of the Hayworth Theatre to lend a mordant undertone to the sparse furnishings that indicate various scenes. Traci McWain's costume designs use black and white simplicity except for one gorgeous red strapless number for Linda's big song in the height of her fame. Waronker, Caffey, Sawyer and their excellent cast have found an ideal expression of the emotional and very physical truth of this story of an era where girls in Playboy bunny ears express porn's seepage into pop culture with horrifying visual imagery.