The run (to Dec. 16) at First Stage in Issaquah, WA, a suburb of Seattle, is considered the project's "final phase of development" before a wider future. Along with Seattle-area theatregoers, producers and presenters are being invited to view the four-actress/three-musician show.
An earlier version of Love is Love borrowed essays that appeared in the New York Times' Modern Love column, but negotiations with the paper for rights to the pieces broke down, Charnin said.
Shrewd Charnin decided to reinvent the show and invite the same authors to write fresh material — about relationships — for the human, heartfelt work.
Charnin, the lyricist of Broadway's Annie, I Remember Mama and Two by Two, shares music and lyric credit on Love is Love with Seattle-based composer Richard Gray. According to Village Theatre, "Love is Love follows the stories of 12 unique women, played by four actresses, as they grapple with the mysteries and complications of love, that elusive feeling — from the undeniable flutter of love at first sight to the responsibilities of keeping love alive. The musical numbers and monologues traffic in 19 varied aspects of love, from love of pets to love of partners."
The cast includes Shelly Burch (of the original Nine on Broadway), Ann Evans, Charity Parenzini and Maggie Stenson.
The Love is Love writers are Catherine Lloyd Burns, Charnin (penning connective tissue, as well as lyrics and some music), Larry Doyle, Martha Moffett, Ellen Pall, Richard Reiss, Debra Spar and Ayelet Waldman.
"This production is being built here to travel," Charnin told Playbill.com by phone from Seattle.
He billed the show as "a very economical musical — one of those musicals that can sit down in five different cities simultaneously, like Menopause or I Love You, You're Perfect… It can go into small under-500-seat houses, which is what the ideal situation would be."
The show has a unit set with multi-media features (think Power Point). Charnin said he's open to various next-step scenarios, including commercial sitdowns or partnering with a not-for-profit resident theatres.
Charnin called the show "intimate, sophisticated…human and literate." He added, "The writers who have written this stuff are not sketch writers. They are indeed quality writers, published writers. This stuff has been written for the stage."
Charnin said he's hoping that the show's story songs will be able to live outside of Love is Love.
The production is part of the Village Originals series, which nurtures new works. The not-for-profit company also revives classic musicals. The Love is Love creative team includes choreographer Dannuel Dailey, set and lighting designer Alex Berry and musical director Dwight Beckmeyer.
For more information about the Village Theatre run, call (425) 392-2202 or visit www.villagetheatre.org.