“Who Murdered Love?” may sound like an existential question for our time, but in this case it’s the theatrical product of Lissa Moira and Richard West.
They took the germ of an idea regarding the rivalry of the Dadaists and the Surrealists and produced a “Surreal Noir Dadaist Mystery Musical”, in the words of Moira. And if that’s not enough, “it has a psychedelic atmosphere as well,” she adds.
Working with West, who she names as her “partner in life, love and art,” they have come up with an amusing and ambitious pastiche of styles.
One starts to get the idea of what they’re up to pretty quickly just scanning the characters’ names. You’ve got the detective Sleepy Sam Speed, his assistant Gail Friday, the blonde bombshell client Honey Potts, the artists André Ranton and Darcel Du Camp, as well as the elusive titular character DaDa Love.
The whole thing had been percolating for 14 years now, when Moira and West first mounted the show at the Theater for the New City, where it is playing once again but in a much changed form.
While some things have stayed the same — Louisa Bradshaw is again playing the Countess Analise, a part that Moira wrote specifically for her — the show has bloomed musically with the addition of a lot more tunes. The numbers are a combo of Moira’s lyrics and West’s melodies, with some additional melodic contributions from Bradshaw, Gregory Nissen and Peter Dizozza, who also serves as music director and piano accompanist.
Numbers range from “Oh No She’s A Blonde” to “Green Fairy,” described by Moira as a “psychedelic madrigal.”
“In most musicals the songs push the plot forward, “ Moira notes. “But many of these songs serve to deepen the characters. I’m using the songs for dramatic effect.”
The drama and witty repartée is presented by a well chosen group, as Moira tells us that “I have an amazing cast — I’m thrilled with everyone!”
The actors have been seen on Broadway, Netflix, the Steve Harvey Show, Carnegie Hall, network television, American Idol, national touring companies and feature films while some have written their own films and musicals.
Moira, a playwright, screenwriter, director, artist and poet and West, a writer, musician and actor have impressive resumes as well, having written and produced — separately and together — numerous successful Off-Off-Broadway shows such as “Sexual Psychobabble” and “The Best Sex of the XX Century Sale.”
The whole shebang is not without some serious undertones, as Moira explains. “One of the things that we are trying to say in it is, what hope is there for the world if sensitive artists with elevated sensibilities, like the Dadaists and the Surrealists, are sniping at each others backs ? If we can’t care for each other, how can everyone else?”
“Who Murdered Love?” runs through Feb. 19 at the Theater for the New City. More info here: theaterforthenewcity.net/shows/who-murdered-love-2023
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.