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A Ragtag Fable: ‘My True Love’

Peggy Hepburn’s 3-word review: Fantasy with heart!


Mairead Conner as “Cedarella” & Andrew Mcnamara as “Love Machine”

It’s in the small theaters tucked away on little streets, away from the polish & glamour of Broadway, that you find the moxie that fuels the thirst for the stage so endemic to the thespian scene of New York City. One such venue is The Players Theatre on MacDougal Street, which is currently presenting a playful hurdy-gurdy of a show with the simplest of titles: ‘My True Love’.


A rapid-fire prologue explains that the witches of Magicland derive their magic from love, that most ephemeral of substances, & have developed a life-hack to avoid bothering with human love: they kiss frogs instead. Each of the three main witches has a puppet frog (by far the visual highlight of the show & not given nearly enough stage time); & when one of their brethren falls for an actual human, the other witches magick her love out of her heart, rendering her powerless &, for good measure, cursing her with a gray shag haircut & a heavy Long Island accent (played by Livi Rose, the standout performance of the show). The main action of the play is 20 years later, & we join Cedarella (Mairead Conner) who finds herself in a similar position: unwilling to love a frog & pining for a storybook prince. An extreme gardener from Nebraska (Julian Schenker) enters in search of the perfect place to plant his Ecuadorian begonias (which just happen to be the key ingredient in a reversal spell for the witch from the prologue). He is not a storybook prince, & therefore un-ideal for Cedarella, who immediately rejects his advances, & instead falls for a robot the other witches design to steal the love from her heart as well, in order to have enough magic to time travel to the original 1987 Broadway production of ‘Into the Woods’, the show’s obvious inspiration.


If it sounds convoluted, that’s because it is. The strongest aspect of the show was the music & songwriting, which were everything you want from musical theatre: fun, sweet & clear. If these characteristics could be transferred to the messy plot, they could really have a hit on their hands. Clarity, when it’s lacking, is like a cold drink in a hot desert. From the description in the preceding paragraph, you would think these frog-loving witches were wart-faced villains, but in the show they’re presented as a motley trio of clumsy fun-loving stooges, one of which had a smartphone in her hand the entire time, a non-sequitur I found unnecessary & slightly unnerving. Another point I scratched my head over was whether the show was explicitly for children or not — some of the actors certainly seemed to think so, though others were playing it a little less hammy (I’m a big fan of ham, but some consistency would be nice). Oddly, the show positions itself as being a fable about ‘consent’, which felt like a weird label from sexual politics added to an otherwise playfully irreverent yet classic tale about a girl whose standards are too high because of the media she’s ingested & realizes that a boy from Nebraska might be just what the doctor ordered.


Despite its clumsiness, the show had heart & whimsy in spades, which we love here at Humphrey Magazine. I left with the tunes in my head, just as the opening number promised. Long live little theatre.


—Peggy Hepburn



‘My True Love’ is at The Players Theatre through June 2nd. All images courtesy ‘My True Love’ Production.

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