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|A CurtainUp Review from Shaw Festival
She Loves Me
By Joe Green
What a frothy, delightful musical treat! Many theatregoers will know that this slight confection is based on Miklos Laszio's Parfumerie which inspired two films that pre-date the musical: The Shop Around the Corner (with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan in 1940) and In the Good Old Summertime (with Judy Garland and Van Johnson in 1949). And just a year or so ago, You've Got Mail continued the remake tradition.
With book by Joe Masteroff (Cabaret), lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and music by Jerry Bock (the team that brought us Fiorello and Fiddler on the Roof), what could be bad? Not much at all, if a confectionary is all you need for an occasional meal.
We all know the story . . . hero works in perfume shop with a group of zany colleagues, one of whom will turn out to be the villain of the piece. . . heroine enters and gets job in the shop. . . unbeknownst to either of them, they have been writing love letters to each other and are planning to meet! Complications ensue. . . shop owner fires hero as business turns bad, then tries to shoot himself (misses!). .. villain is discovered. . . hero is rehired and gets heroine. . . and audience goes home whistling the only memorable song in the piece, the title song.
Roger Hodgman, in his debut production for the Shaw Festival, has directed She Loves Me with a lightness of hand that beautifully complements the text and the music. In his deft hands, and with the able support of Paul Sportelli's music direction, the evening moves fluidly from scene to scene on Patrick Clark's imaginative set on the early twentieth century stage of the Royal George Theatre. William Orlowski's choreography maintains the delicate tone of the production and Michael Whitfield's lighting matches all of it perfectly. The Festival company is likewise up to the mark for this show. Ben Carlson's hero and Glynis Ranney's heroine (also seen in Easy Virtue this summer) are delightful. And with the four other souls who populate Mr. Maraczek's perfumery, including even the villain of the piece, they all create a joyful funny family. What could be better for a summer's eve (or afternoon)?