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Las Vegas Little Theatre delivers a perfectly tuned ‘Prelude to a Kiss’

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A scene from Prelude to a Kiss at Las Vegas Little Theatre
Photo: Susannah Smitherman
Jacob Coakley

Prelude to a Kiss is actually the story of three kisses. Craig Lucas’ 1988 play follows the path of Peter (played by Andrew Eddins) and Rita (Penni Mendez), a young couple who meet cute, fall in love, get married and then ... Well, that would be telling.

The Details

Prelude to a Kiss
Four stars
Through March 6, Thursdays-Sundays, various times, $21-$24.
Las Vegas Little Theatre, 362-7996.

Kiss’ tension doesn’t come from asking if the couple will get together—that happens in rather short order (kiss one). The couple’s flirty romance and awkward beginnings are handled with aplomb, but lack a certain frisson. The gossamer lightness of their young romance feels a little forced, but as their relationship deepens, the connection gains more authenticity, until an Old Man (Dave Pomeroy) throws a wrench into everything at their wedding (kiss two).

At this point the play asks big questions about how love lasts when suddenly faced with “’til death do us part”; it also asks a lot from its actors, as characters are faced with massive change and uncertainty. Mendez and Pomeroy are given the largest tasks, and while Mendez acquits herself admirably, Pomeroy does a stellar job in the second act, following Mendez’s footsteps into a character and relationship in a way that convinces everyone of the impossible. Perhaps this is just because he has more to work with, while Mendez has to forge ahead into uncharted (and unsympathetic) waters, but the Old Man and Peter’s new relationship is touching, heartbreaking and, ultimately, romantic (kiss three).

Through it all Eddins is a charming and devoted guide, and the supporting cast (Valerie Carpenter-Bernstein and Micah Epstein as Rita’s parents, Ryan Balint as Peter’s rakish best friend, Anne-Marie Somers as the Old Man’s daughter) add zest and pop when called upon. In the end, though, the real star of Prelude to a Kiss is the testament to true love at its core—no matter what contortions it forces the actors through to show it.

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