BWW Review: CATCO's I DO! I DO! Links Life, Love and Laughter

Photo credit: Kevin James

Whether art imitates life or vice versa differs depending on who you ask, but CATCO's production of I Do! I Do! makes a strong case for both interpretations of this age-old adage.

Featuring music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones, I Do! I Do! stars CATCO Associate Producing Director Joe Bishara (Michael Snow) and his wife, Liz Wheeler (Agnes Snow), as the two characters whose relationship is charted over the course of the musical's two acts.

True to its name, the show starts with a wedding, narrated by Michael and Agnes as they sing about the anticipation and excitement the surrounds their new life together. The young couple's naivete is evident as they gaze toward the future through rose-tinted glasses -- literally, as lighting designer Cynthia Stillings' color palette illuminates the stage with a pinkish hue.

Yet, as life progresses and children are brought into the family, the couple quickly goes from blissfully proclaiming a passion-filled love to reading lists of each other's most annoying habits, causing the tone of the show to swiftly shift from "I do" to "I don't."

Photo Credit: DiBlasio Photography

Despite the trials and tribulations faced by the Snows throughout 50 years of marriage, the show's witty writing keeps the audience engaged while delving into the more serious themes of nostalgia and sentimentality. The shared energy and enthusiasm of Bishara and Wheeler electrify every scene, while their natural chemistry enhances a not-always-perfect love story that spans five decades over the course of two hours.

Originally appearing on Broadway more than half a century ago, I Do! I Do! takes place from 1895 to 1945, but one would not easily guess this from CATCO's production. Darin Keesing's scenic design is minimalistic and modern, the stage arranged in a grid that uses linear patterns to emphasize the characters' physical and emotional distance throughout the show. Behind the latticed web of white squares that borders the Snows' bedroom sits music director Quinton Jones, who underscores the couple's journey with piano accompaniment and several well-timed pops of percussion.

Indeed, it is the absence of modern gadgets that alludes to the plot's relative antiquity -- an observation that is not so much a distraction as it is a curious detail. Presenting a thoughtful production that examines romance in real life, CATCO proves that this classic musical, like love itself, can evolve and endure.

I Do! I Do! is the final show of CATCO's 2016-17 season. It will be performed at the Vern Riffe Center's Studio Two Theatre through June 18.

More information about the show, including ticket prices and showtimes, can be found on CATCO's website.

The Vern Riffe Center is located at 77 S. High St.

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From This Author Amanda Etchison

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