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Review Roundup: SHE LOVES ME Opens on Broadway - All the Reviews!


Laura Benanti (Amalia), Zachary Levi (Georg),Gavin Creel (Kodaly), Michael McGrath (Sipos), Jane Krakowski (Ilona) and Byron Jennings (Maraczek) star in Roundabout's new Broadway production of She Loves Me, directed by Scott Ellis, choreographed by Warren Carlyle with musical direction by Paul Gemignani. She Loves Me officially opens tonight, March 17, 2016, and runs through July 10, 2016 at Studio 54 on Broadway.

This classic musical comedy features a book by Joe Masteroff, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and music by Jerry Bock.

The previously announced cast will also feature Nicholas Barasch (Arpad) and Peter Bartlett (Head Waiter) and ensemble members Cameron Adams, Alison Cimmet, Justin Bowen, Preston Truman Boyd, Benjamin Eakeley, Sara Edwards, Michael Fatica, Gina Ferrall, Jenifer Foote, Andrew Kober,Laura Shoop, Jim Walton.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: Sometimes vanilla ice cream can taste like sweet deliverance. Such is the discovery made by one Amalia Balash in the 1963 musical "She Loves Me" -- which has been rapturously revived in a new production by the Roundabout Theater Company -- when she receives a gift of this frozen confection from an unlikely suitor. As Amalia trills her delight in a song that flies toward heaven on ascending high notes, audiences for Scott Ellis's production...are likely to know exactly how she feels. That's partly because "Vanilla Ice Cream" performed by Laura Benanti, an actress whose joyful soprano is a conduit for instant empathy...when embodied by a cast as expertly attuned as this one, which also includes a winning Zachary Levi and a scrumptious Jane Krakowski, it has a lingering and deeply satisfying sweetness usually lacking in brassier shows...The cheerful seamlessness of "She Loves Me" defies deconstruction.

Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: An astounding cast, a nifty story and memorable songs turn this revival into a celebration of classic musical construction. It's worth skipping work to see...Benanti charms from the moment she steps onstage but never coasts even though the role is firmly in her wheelhouse. She's genuinely buffeted by emotions that swing from disgust to fondness, and she is vocally in a league of her own, flawlessly knocking back the near-operatic demands of the part. Levi turns out to be no slouch either. The part requires a singer who can act and has comedic chops, and Levi nails it. He has the unenviable task of immediately following Benanti's triumphant, bed-bouncing "Vanilla Ice Cream" with the title song and yet he owns the stage as a heel-clicking giddy man suddenly in love. He even does a cartwheel.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: It's one month late for Valentine's Day, but Roundabout Theatre Company's enchanting staging of She Loves Me sends a message straight to the heart of romantic musical comedy lovers. Designed as a pastel-colored, art nouveau jewel box, the 1963 show has been directed by Scott Ellis with effortless buoyancy and sophistication. It's also ideally cast, with an ensemble led by Laura Benanti, whose silvery soprano was born to sing this role. Add in Zachary Levi, projecting throwback charm with winning confidence, and Jane Krakowski in top form and you have a revival that will delight admirers of this musical favorite while providing a perfect introduction to those encountering it for the first time.

Marilyn Stasio, Variety: The Roundabout Theater Company's enchanting Broadway revival of "She Loves Me" is so charming, you kind of wish it would follow you home. The show is a special triumph for director Scott Ellis...Laura Benanti and Zachary Levi are endearing as the shy lovers in this intimate romantic comedy, the supporting cast (including Jane Krakowski) constitutes a dream team, and the stagecraft is absolutely flawless...In addition to her glorious soprano voice, Benanti has great comedy chops...She's at her best here in a part that has been waiting for her to come along, a part that seems to love her. The songs "Vanilla Ice Cream" and "Where's My Shoe?" have her name on them -- and that's that.

David Cote, Time Out NY: ...we all know that romantic comedies depend on chemistry-between leads. Laura Benanti and Zachary Levi have that in spades. As quarrelsome clerks in a Budapest perfume store in the heaven-sent She Loves Me, these two cuties irritate each other so much, they're obviously destined for cuddles and kisses...In a classic "second couple" subplot, the luscious Jane Krakowski plays a shopgirl having an ill-advised workplace affair with Gavin Creel's dapper cad. The Roundabout gets so much right in a splendid, joy-stuffed production: casting, design and even the reduced orchestra (guided with tremendous grace by Paul Gemignani)...Benanti, besides looking as lovely as ever and earning her laughs, shows off an old-fashioned soprano with affecting vibrato. Levi slips into Georg's skin with ease, exuding sweet modesty and just a pinch of hauteur.

Robert Kahn, NBC New York: The tremendous revival of "She Loves Me"...left visions of sugarplums dancing in my head and dreams of vanilla ice cream. The candy fantasies, let's chalk up to Roundabout's cartoonish art nouveau sets, which recreate the streets of Budapest in cheery rainbow hues. The ice cream? That was all Laura Benanti, who, as a lonely salesgirl, cries despairingly into her dessert while singing one of the more delicious confections from the classic rom-com...Benanti...brings an operatic quality to the role, wrenching emotion from songs such as "Dear Friend." As with her co-stars, there's a winking and self-conscious quality to her performance. Levi, as the shop's senior employee, has stepped up his game since his nice debut a few seasons back in "First Date." His Georg is a solid fellow who wants to make everyone happy...Levi seems to be having fun, and his performance is natural and comfortable.

Linda Winer, Newsday: The production, again directed with tender exactitude by Scott Ellis, now has the unstoppably appealing Laura Benanti and the equally winning Zachary Levi as the warring perfume sales clerks who don't know they're secret pen pals...By no means, however, is this a two-person show. Benanti and Levi are surrounded in the '30s Budapest shop by Jane Krakowski, delightfully adroit as the naughty-and-nice, unapologetically sexual co-worker, Gavin Creel as her dashing cad of a lover and Michael McGrath as the less theatrically assertive but no less essential salesman...And there are plenty of florid operetta demands for Benanti, who wears a role created by Barbara Cook with a lyrical yet sturdy sense of her character's worth and sense of humor.

Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal: Perfection needs no commentary, so I'll make it short and sweet: The Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of "She Loves Me" is ideal. The show itself, a 1963 stage version of "The Shop Around the Corner," Ernst Lubitsch's 1940 romcom about two perfume-store clerks who love each other but don't know it, is the most romantic of all Broadway musicals. Scott Ellis's fleet, warmhearted staging and Warren Carlyle's witty dances do complete justice to Joe Masteroff's charming book and the delicious Jerry Bock-Sheldon Harnick score: Every number pays off and every laugh lands with a bang.

Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Daily News: Broadway's bewitching new "She Loves Me" is as sweet and exhilarating as a first kiss...There's very little that's confused about Scott Ellis' sparkling straight-up staging for the Roundabout. Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick's score packs yearning and humor as it caresses the ears and heart. The boutique and its colorful characters are brought to life beautifully..."She Loves Me" has its dark plot twists, but the star turns are all bright. Benanti...reminds that she can do anything, given her incandescent soprano and comic timing. The show lifts off when she sings "Vanilla Ice Cream" and "Will He Like Me?" Levi...brings good-looking boyish gusto to the catchy title song. Georg's exuberant cartwheel is a cherry on top.

Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Post: A musical doesn't have to be perfect to delight. Cutting-edge is overrated, too: Just give us well-crafted material and a starry cast that knows exactly what it's doing...Laura Benanti and Zachary Levi shine brightly as a classic rom-com couple. They bicker amusingly throughout the show, before realizing -- zero spoiler alert! -- that they're in love. The pair have such a natural rapport that it's impossible not to root for their characters...But then the entire cast of this spry production is flawless, with special kudos to comic MVPs Jane Krakowski (as a sultry minx) and Gavin Creel (as her mustachioed Lothario).

Matt Windman, AM New York: I dare you to find a flaw in "She Loves Me," Harnick and Bock's intimate, tender-hearted, altogether exquisite 1963 musical comedy/romance...With her superb vocal abilities and comedic instincts and open emotionality, Benanti scores a homerun as the hopeful but staunch Amalia, and the same can be said about Krakowski as Ilona, the gal pal who's been around the block one too many times. likable but underwhelming as the hardworking, affable clerk Georg, but that hardly matters. The overall impact of this winning production leaves you teary-eyed and overjoyed.

Jeremy Gerard, Deadline: She Loves Me is probably the best Broadway musical you've never heard of (unless you're a Broadway nerd). It's an unassuming, Old World charmer, testament to craft, witchcraft and romance that echoes the operettas of Romberg and Friml...and I'm thrilled to say that while I have aged, She Loves Me has not, not one bit. The score remains enchanting...This time the unlikely lovers are played by the infinitely appealing Laura Benanti (ABC's Nashville and a Tony winner for Gypsy) and Zachary Levi (NBC's Chuck), delightful as irritated co-workers in Maraczek's Parfumerie by day, swoony epistolary confidants by night...The team of Scott Ellis (director) and Warren Carlyle (choreography) let the show breathe.

Robert Hofler, TheWrap: Yes, much of the show is as sugary and sweet as Amalia's late-in-the-show dessert, but evident also are the pain and heartbreak of infidelity, unemployment, being jerked around by a loved one and getting fired from your job. David Rockwell's magnificent and ever-changing set design takes its cue from the book's pivotal object, a musical cigarette box being sold at a Budapest parfumerie in 1934...Levi and Benanti connect through their characters' mutual underlying loneliness. They're as charming as Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, those "You've Got Mail" stars, and they can also sing. Equally important, they never indulge in the usual musical-comedy tricks that attract Tony attention. Ellis wisely hands all that kind of Broadway shtick to the show's ill-matched secondary couple, played by the warring Jane Krakowski and Gavin Creel.

Jesse Green, Vulture: When a production has enough outstanding elements working in its favor -- as the Roundabout's revival of She Loves Me starring Laura Benanti and Zachary Levi certainly does -- your mind can fill in the rest, and more. Benanti, with her thrilling voice and zany self-deprecation, is perfect casting for Amalia Balash...Their lyrics, by Sheldon Harnick, marry gentle wit to character development with the highest technical polish; his rhymes get laughs not because they're tricky but because they're so apt...These nearly prose observations miraculously sit on music, by Jerry Bock, that maintains their contours while flowering into arias of enormous beauty, especially for Amalia, who has a heavy stack of them to sell. This is where Benanti's gifts become crucial. She is, no surprise, a joy to listen to -- even when, as last night, recovering from bronchitis. But she brings to the job of making beautiful sounds the natural comic's instinct of opening herself to heartbreak.

Jessica Derschowitz, Entertainment Weekly: Levi and Benanti make a winning pair, even if their characters don't realize it until long after everyone else does. Her operatic voice soars in Amalia's most emotional moments, bringing depth to the character's naïveté and yearning for love, when she's wondering about her love interest in "Will He Like Me?," awaiting their starcrossed meeting, and, later, giddy over a certain someone bringing her vanilla ice cream. Levi's songs require less vocal theatrics but he manages them well, cranking up the charm throughout but most winningly in the show's title number, which has him bounding across the stage, jumping on benches, and cartwheeling with joy.

Peter Marks, The Washington Post: Exuberance, thy musical name is "She Loves Me"...The orchestra conducted by Paul Gemignani and the cast led by Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi and Jane Krakowski prove to be scrupulous custodians of the luscious score, and none of them more polished than Benanti. Her Amalia Balash is a worthy successor to the role's originator, Barbara Cook -- and that includes her skill at hitting that gorgeous, high B-flat in the song "Vanilla Ice Cream."

Steven Suskin, Huffington Post: Chief among the pleasures of this revival are the leading players, who take the innately charming material and add their own personal magic. Amalia is a soprano's dream; Barbara Cook created the role, turning the big aria "Ice Cream" into something of a standard for hard-singing heroines. (Cook originated not only "Ice Cream" but Leonard Bernstein's "Glitter and Be Gay" from Candide, two numbers that serve as something of a trial by fire for musical comedy leading ladies.) Here we have Ms. Benanti, who can match just about anyone in the vocal spotlight. What sends her performance over the top is her comedy skills; there is humor in the role, yes, but Benanti makes it downright funny. The bedroom scene, for instance (leading to "Ice Cream"), plays like high comedy. Let it be added that the book by Joe Masteroff-who later turned his hand to Cabaret-works marvelously well.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

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