Love Musically

You’ll have to wait a little longer to read about my favourite book of the year (sorry), but I’ll give you a review of something else this week that I went and saw—something a little more seasonal.

Who doesn’t like Love Actually?


Actually, a lot of people don’t—my husband being one of them. So when I saw that a Vancouver improv company was doing an improvised musical based on this movie, I knew it would be a bit of a risk buying tickets for us. But I did anyway.


And we loved it. Actually! (sorry, just had to throw that in there). We weren’t quite sure what to expect: all musical? Whose Line is it Anyway-style theatre games? A Vancouver version of the movie?

The show runs two hours with a 10 minute intermission and features 8 different characters whose storylines intersect as the show develops, much like the movie. We attended last night, and the pairings of relationships were:

  • two friends (male & female)
  • two friends (both male)
  • a mother & daughter
  • a husband and wife

As Off Key Improv’s website states, the musical relies on audience suggestions for the different characters’ storylines. At the beginning of the evening, a woman asked for a show of hands for the different pairings above and then called on these people to help provide the details, such as:

  • what’s a favourite Christmas tradition? (skiing at Whistler)
  • how do you spend Christmas day? (playing board games)
  • what’s a really difficult thing about Christmas this year? (cat died)

It was impressive to see how the actors developed the stories from such little information to make a complete musical from beginning to end with rising tension, laugh-out-loud scenes, heartfelt moments, and even some sad ones. They have a live band improvising music too, which added a lot to the scenes. All the actors took turns singing and did a fairly good job at rhyming on the spot. But the musical was more talking than singing, which I prefer.

I anticipated a little more audience interaction and hilarity, but I think that’s because the only precedent I have of improv comedy is Vancouver TheatreSports League, where there are new games the performers have to do every few minutes or so, much like Whose Line is it Anyway?

Apart from the intertwined stories and the complex, tangled love relationships, the other aspect of the musical that played tribute to the movie was right after intermission where a couple members of the audience could sit on stage under the spotlight with the chorus humming in the background and present a special message to someone in the audience like this scene in the movie:


As this CBC article says, the actors play different roles every night, so hats off to them for changing it up all the time and not knowing what to expect either.

There’s still one more showing tonight and I would recommend it as a fun and different way to celebrate the holidays and the mix of emotions they bring. And even if you don’t like the movie, doesn’t mean you won’t like the musical!