Bubbly as a diet soda and about as substantial, ABC Family's "Lovestruck: The Musical" at 8 tonight offers up a pleasant little diversion for a spring evening.
Shot in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area in 2011, "Lovestruck" was originally called "Elixir." It's the story of a Broadway choreographer and former star, Harper (Jane Seymour) who is out to stop her daughter, Mirabella (Sara Paxton) from marrying a man infamous as an international playboy.
Arriving in Italy to break things up and fresh out of painkiller, Harper imbibes a strange "vitality" tonic found in an old theater trunk. Next thing you know, she's 30 years younger and dancing around the airport in Italy, or, more precisely, the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
The usual hijinks ensue involving mistaken identities, the revisiting of old wounds and there's a whole lotta dancing. Choreographer Michael Rooney matches different genres to the mixtape of songs: a little jazz here, some disco there.
Ms. Seymour was indeed a dancer in her youth. Like Harper, an injury cut short her career but in recent years she was seen hoofing it on "Dancing With the Stars." She gets a rousing opening number (shot on stage at the BenedumCenter) at the beginning of "Lovestruck," set to Lady Gaga's "Just Dance."
Among the more elaborate numbers is a poolside ode to losing one's virginity (set to, of course, Madonna's "Like a Virgin").
Given the ABC Family brand, that strikes a slightly jarring note. Earlier, Mirabella and her fiance, Marco (Alexander John DiPersia) are shown waking up in bed together. No big deal, in the scope of current culture, except the rest of the script is G-rated screwball comedy.
An attraction for Pittsburgh viewers will be spotting area locales, including Schenley Park's Panther Hollow Bridge, Hartwood Acres and Frick Park, the mansion at Linden Hall in Dawson, Fayette County, and a private estate in O'Hara, spruced up as an estate in Italy.
"Lovestruck" is what's known as a "jukebox" musical: story crafted around songs not originally written for the production.
Fans of musical theater realize jukebox is hard to do well. It helps to have a strong slate of popular hit songs ("Jersey Boys," "Million Dollar Quartet") or relevant numbers ("American Idiot," "Rock of Ages").
There are far too many jukebox misfires, however (does anyone remember "Good Vibrations"?), and "Lovestruck" suffers from a particularly uneven mix of tunes.
Other numbers, now available as a digital sound track on iTunes, include Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," Usher's "DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love" and the much-covered "Everlasting Love."
With a script by Terry Rossio and Jaylynn Bailey, "Lovestruck" isn't long on logic (Mirabella doesn't recognize her mother or father, played young and old by Drew Seely and Tom Wopat) but it's a candy-colored bit of fluff that might well appeal to the "High School Musical" crowd.
There are times when it's almost like watching a silly version of "Follies," but then, you could do worse than Stephen Sondheim.
Maria Sciullo: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG. First Published April 21, 2013 4:00 AM