BWW Review: SHE LOVES ME is a Heart Warming, Tuneful Delight

SHE LOVES ME is a musical with a book by Joe Masteroff, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and music by Jerry Bock. It is an adaptation of the play Parfumerie by Hungarian playwright Miklos Laszlo. Other adaptations include the films The Shop Around the Corner, In the Good Old Summertime and You've Got Mail. It opened on Broadway in 1963, and has had productions in the West End as well as award-winning revivals and regional productions. It is currently playing in revival on Broadway in a production by The Roundabout Theatre.

SHE LOVES ME is a charming musical romantic comedy with a soaring score. It revolves around Budapest shop employees Georg Nowack (Matt Buzonas) and Amalia Balash (Cheyenne Barton) who constantly argue with each other at work both unaware that each is the other's secret lonely-hearts pen pal. He thinks she's stuck up. She thinks he's arrogant and mean. But as each writes to their pen pal it doesn't take long for the audience to see that they're in love without realizing it. Inevitably Georg and Amalia discover this fact as well in the story's sweet conclusion.

The production of SHE LOVES ME, currently playing at The Mary Moody Nothen Theatre is near perfection. Director Nick Mayo has rethought this piece and it works wonderfully in the round with a smart, stylish minimalistic set by Leilah Stewart. Mayo's obvious affection for the material results in a deft soufflé of a musical that hits all the right notes. Susan Branch Towne's costumes are perfect in both palette and detail. Maeann Ross' sound design always seemed to be coming from exactly where it should have been (as opposed to obviously coming from a speaker unrelated to the action on stage) and added greatly to the magic. Natalie George's lighting design is the perfect topper to this delicious confection.

One of my favorite numbers in SHE LOVES ME has always been "Twelve Days to Christmas." It is staged here to dizzy show-stopping effect by choreographers Danny Herman and Rocker Verastique.

While skillful and charming performances abound in this production, there are some worth noting as exceptional. Matt Buzonas is terrific as likeable, unassuming, regular guy George Nowack. As Ilona Ritter, Maureen Fenninger, shows us both the sexy and vulnerable sides of the character with great flair. Hollis McNutt is a charmer as the youthful and willing bicycle delivery boy for Maraczek's Parfumerie. Ev Lunning Jr. is outstanding as the stern, playful, vindictive yet warm of heart Mr. Maraczek. Kenneth Hurley has an impressive tenor voice he uses to great effect as womanizer and cad Steven Kodaly. And Scott Shipman delivers a hilarious show stopping turn as the Waiter.

The star of the piece, however, is actress Cheyenne Barton as Amalia Balash. This is a vocally demanding role that Barton hits out of the park multiple times, especially with the show's signature tune "Vanilla Ice Cream". At turns strong-willed yet shy, intelligent, child-like, bookish, sensitive and resilient; Barton has you rooting for her from her very first scene.

SHE LOVES ME is an utterly charming look back at a simpler time done with style and class. If you like romantic comedy and lyrically complex songs, you can't go wrong with this production. Go, smile and warm your heart.

SHE LOVES ME - Book by Joe Maseteroff, Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and Music by Jerry Bock. Based on a play by Miklos Laszlo.

Running time: Approximately Two Hours with one intermission.

SHE LOVES ME, produced by St. Edward's University at Mary Moody Northen Theatre (3001 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX, 78704)

April 07 - April 17, 2016

Wednesdays - Saturdays 7:30 p.m., Sundays 2:00 pm.

TICKETS: $27 Adult ($22 Students, Seniors, St. Edward's community)

Box Office: 512-448-8484. Box Office hours are 1 -5 p.m. Monday- Friday when classes are in session and one hour prior to curtain.


Student discount night April 13: $10 with Student ID

Group rates for 10 people or more are available.

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From This Author Frank Benge