MvVO Art Launches AD ART SHOW
Off Broadway

Lolita My Love or Confessions of a Pedophile

Lolita My Love or Confessions of a Pedophile

It is hard to believe that book writer/lyricist Alan Jay Lerner, who penned Brigadoon,Camelot, and My Fair Ladybrought to life Vladimir Nabokov’s novel “Lolita” and thought it would fly on Broadway, let alone out of town. After seeing this musical, now playing at the York Theatre, I completely understand why it failed. The production and the York do a superb job of this material, but it is incredibly hard to watch the charming and winning Robert Sella as the middle-aged Professor Humbert dream, fantasize, and sleep with the 14-year-old Lolita (Catlin Cohn) and not be completely creeped out. Not to mention he is also a cold-blooded murderer.

BWW Review:  Decades After Pre-Broadway Closing, The York Brings Alan Jay Lerner and John Barry's Controversial LOLITA, MY LOVE To New York
Robert Sella and Caitlin Cohn Photo by Ben Strothmann

In 1971, Lolita, My Loveplayed both Philadelphia and Boston and starred Dorothy Loudon as Lolita’s mother. Like the movie and novel, Lolita, My Lovefocuses on European-born professor, Humbert Humbert (Robert Sella), who foolishly lusts and falls in love with his landlady’s teenaged daughter (Catlin Cohn). Erik Haagensen put together six drafts of the text penned by Lerner and The Musicals in Mufti series uses two of them. What was never seen is placing a psychiatrist (Thursday Farrar) on stage to bring Humbert’s narrative out and contradict the dream segments from reality. This role does not sing. In a sense, she is the audience and is just as repulsed as we are.

Thursday Farrar, Robert Sella  Photo by Ben Strothmann

As Humbert is lusting after Lolita, her mother (Jessica Tyler Wright) lusts after him. Ms. Wright plays this comedic role straight, which is oddly at out of place

Robert Sella and Caitlin Cohn Photo by Ben Strothmann

In the novel and the film, Loita has never been an angel. She is a teenage nymphet, or is it that she longs for a daddy figure and love? Unless you see her as the bad seed of sex, Humbert is neither her first or who she loves. She loves hedonistic author Clare Quilty (wonderfully played by George Abud), who plays a series of head trips with Humbert. Since this is only told through Humbert’s eyes, we never know anything about how Lolita feels about anything minus being controlled.

The score by John Barry has been reconstructed by music director Deniz Cordell, who serves as the entire orchestra. Some of the songs in Lolita are catchy and the First Act is definitely better than the Second with “In the Broken Promise Land of Fifteen,” and “Sur Les Quais” as standouts.

BWW Review:  Decades After Pre-Broadway Closing, The York Brings Alan Jay Lerner and John Barry's Controversial LOLITA, MY LOVE To New York
George Abud, Becca Fox, Caitlin Cohn
Photo: Ben Strothmann

Sella does his best to make us understand his plight while sounding glorious. He tries to bring sympathy to a man who manipulates, lies, and cohorts with a child. Ms. Cohn brings us through her ordeal with credibility and because of that, we truly see what a predator Humbert is. Mr. Abud steals the show every time he appears and the chorus which plays some smaller roles sang wonderfully and filled out the stage with panache. Bravo to Becca Fox, Hanako Greensmith, Victoria Huston-Elem, Jay Aubrey Jones, Kennedy Kanagawa, Max Meyers, Mark Montague, and Analise Scarpaci.

Emily Maltby does a wonderful job at directing this piece and keeps it flowing and palatable.

Emily Maltby does a wonderful job of directing this piece and keeps it flowing and palatable.

You hear every day about relationships like this and how the world is condoning them. I think we should hear about this from a child’s point of view after the fantasy and the reality sinks in. For me, it is just too much to take when done in song.

Lolita, My Love: The York Theatre at Saint Peter’s (619 Lexington Avenue, entrance on East 54th Street, just east of Lexington Avenue). You can still see this show this Friday @8pm, Saturday @2:30pm and 8pm, Sunday @2:30pm and 7pm closes March 3rd.

Off Broadway

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

More in Off Broadway

Take a First Look at The Star Studded Cast of Morning’s At Seven

Suzanna BowlingOctober 23, 2021

The Band’s Visit Ari’el Stachel Has Left The Visitor

Suzanna BowlingOctober 22, 2021

Morning’s At Seven Starry Cast Comes To Off Broadway For a 12-week engagement

Suzanna BowlingOctober 20, 2021

Blue Roses at The York Theatre Company

Genevieve Rafter KeddyOctober 20, 2021

Kathleen Chalfant and George Bartenieff To Star in Blue Valiant a Free Web Event

Suzanna BowlingOctober 17, 2021

Crossing The Line Festival

Suzanna BowlingOctober 16, 2021

Sleepy Hollow: A Musical Thriller

Suzanna BowlingOctober 14, 2021

The Pulitzer Prize Nominated Play War Words Live On Both Coasts

Suzanna BowlingOctober 13, 2021

After 19 Months of Closure Théâtre XIV Reopens October With Five Special Halloween Blowout Bashes

Suzanna BowlingOctober 12, 2021