As one might guess from its title, The Love Letter You’ve Been Meaning to Write New York is not for cynics. Creator-director Jonathan Solari’s multimedia piece fairly drips with earnest affection for NYC, manifested in gee-whiz dialogue and outsized portraits of city characters that are somewhat less than fresh. But the production’s genuine energy and enthusiasm will win over warmer hearts; it may be mawkish, but it’s a good time.
The story is lightweight: A melancholy young Manhattanite (Arnaud J. Spanos, a solid anchor) has decided to flee Gotham, but his exit is curbed by a series of encounters with jazzy city dwellers. More ingenious is the staging; the audience faces the 3LD gallery’s floor-to-ceiling windows, and the events play out in front of the space on Greenwich Street, with the large ensemble cast on lavalier microphones. It’s a gimmick, sure, but it gives the predictable narrative the indisputable kick of sorting out the staged from the accidental (and of digging the passers-by that stop and gawk).
Solari is rather less skilled at staging scenes of natural conversation than of magic realism: a powerful poetic interlude, an unexpected tribute to ’80s hip-hop, and an out-of-nowhere yet utterly delightful dance break are highlights (Brian Cherchiglia leads the tough, tight house band). The show is technically ambitious, which causes some hiccups, and the protagonist’s turnaround at the end is barely motivated. But these are, all said, minor concerns. Audiences that don’t mind the corn will find The Love Letter You’ve Been Meaning to Write New York a good-natured charmer.