Writers’ creates a sweet-smelling love story
|Writers’ Theatre presents|
|She Loves Me|
|Book by Joe Masteroff
Music by Jerry Bock, Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Directed by Michael Halberstam
at Writers’ Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe (map)
through November 21st | tickets: $65-$70 | more info
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
When a day brings petty aggravations and my poor frayed nerves are all askew, I forget these unimportant matters pouring out my hopes and dreams to you.’
Writers’ Theatre presents She Loves Me, a romantic comedy written in the 1930’s that went Broadway (1960’s) before going Hollywood (1990’s) – all originating from the the 1930’s play Parfumerie by Hungarian playwright Miklós László. This original “You’ve Got Mail” is set in a 1930’s perfumery. Georg and Amalia are bickering co-workers. Unbeknownst to either, they are also anonymous pen pals in a lonely hearts club. The big clandestine meet-up disappoints and surprises both of them. Can detestation blossom into affection? In a time when relationships bud, bloom, and wither with a Facebook status click, She Loves Me is an uncomplicated, lyrical love letter. Writers’ Theatre delivers this old-fashion romance with first- class singing, certifiable casting, and collectible vintage costumes.
The four-piece orchestra is faintly visible but perfectly audible on the stage behind a faux storefront. Under the musical direction of Ben Johnson, the band hits the whimsical balance to accompany the action and the singers. Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock developed a score that showcases each ensemble member with a solo opportunity. Individually, the singing is outstanding. Collectively, a repetitive number thanking customers is a hilarious, harmonious, memorable send-off. In the leads, Rod Thomas (Georg) and Jessie Mueller (Amalia) channel the hate-love in a believable comedy combo as scorned co-workers and love-searching optimists. Thomas brings ice cream to a depressed Mueller in a pivotal scene that is a sweet she-likes-me moment. Thomas is all sugar (again) to Mueller’s salt in the cutesy pairing of opposites. Under the direction of Michael Halberstam, the entire cast blends together to create an enjoyable light, breezy romantic scent. Providing powerful whiffs with a lingering sass, Heidi Kettenring (Ilona) sings of betrayal and new love with wit and resolution. Setting the ambiance for a romantic atmosphere, Jeremy Rill is the animated waiter dishing up laughs with a side of showboat.
Dressing up the ensemble with 30’s finery, Nan Zabriskie provides a multitude of exquisite costumes. The chorus coming and going from the shop provide a marathon vintage fashion show. Beautiful! Halberstam, along with choreographer Jessica Redish, provide many amusing, visual stunners, including; Christmas shopping and silhouette dancing. Not quite the Anna Karenina of romantic literature, She Loves Me has all the guarantees of a blockbuster romantic comedy. It requires limited emotional or intellectual investment and promises laughs and a happy ending. She Loves Me makes finding love simply a pluck of the petal to determine the emotional connection: she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me… Aw, if it was only that easy, dear friend!
Running time: Two hours and thirty minutes includes a ten minute intermission
|Book: Joe Masteroff
Music: Jerry Bock
Lyrics: Sheldon Harnick
Director: Michael Halberstam
Music Director: Ben Johnson
|Scenic Design: Jack Magaw
Light Design: Keith Parham
Costume Design: Nan Zabriskie
Sound Design: Ray Nardelli
Choreography: Jessica Redish
Associate Director: Jessica Redish
|Featuring: Bernard Balbot, Keli Clevenger, Andrew Goetten, Kevin Gudahl, Stephanie Herman, Heidi Kettenring, Ross Lehman, Jessie Mueller, James Rank, Jeremy Rill, Rod Thomas, Bethany Thomas|
3 WORDS: A man never at a loss for words or love, Steve chooses to describe the show with the spontaneous exclamations of the loudly enthusiastic ladies to his left, ‘I loved it!’ and ‘It was fabulous!’
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