Octagon Theatre, Bolton
Until Saturday, July 12

A PLAY with true heart, starring two talented musical theatre actors, is bringing the Octagon’s season to a close.

Love Story, on until Saturday, July 12, tells the story of wealthy, privileged Harvard alumni Oliver Barrett IV and feisty, spirited Italian-American Jennifer Cavilleri who fall head over heels in love.

Their tale is one of romance, but also humour and tragedy, and these aspects help prevent the musical becoming a cheese-fest of doe-eyed looks and cringey moments – as well as the fantastic, heartfelt and entertaining songs, by writer Stephen Clark and Howard Goodall CBE.

This is the first time the play has been performed outside of the West End and audiences in Bolton who want to laugh and probably cry (get your hankies at the ready) should make the most of this musical treat being on the doorstep.

We Will Rock You actress Lauren Samuels, a finalist in the 2010 Andrew Lloyd-Webber BBC series Over the Rainbow, is exceptional as Jennifer, displaying a stunning voice and playing the part with conviction, warmth and humour.

Spamalot and Avenue Q actor Daniel Boys, who appeared in the 2007 BBC talent search Any Dream Will Do, also puts in an entertaining and moving performance as Oliver, who turns his back on his difficult father and wealth to be with the woman he loves.

Live music is played by a talented ensemble of actor-musicians and the imaginative and clever set, designed by Ciaran Bagnall, makes good use of the Octagon’s space.

The musical is based on Erich Segal’s best-selling novel, which was made into a 1970 hit film, said to be one of the most moving and romantic movies of all time.

Although a tear-jerker, director Elizabeth Newman’s production is a powerful and uplifting story of love, loss and just how precious life is.