Review: SHE LOVES ME at Barbara B. Mann PAH

This weekend at BB Mann

By: Mar. 27, 2021
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Review: SHE LOVES ME at Barbara B. Mann PAH

It's easy to see why the plot of She Loves You has seen so many iterations. All the tropes are there: enemies to lovers, curmudgeonly boss, bumbling sidekick, upwardly mobile messenger boy, sleazy villain, girl who always picks the wrong guy, and, in this version, a lot of music in three-quarter time.

The story has been around since at least the 1930s in a play, Parfumerie. In the 1940s, it came to the screen as The Shop Around the Corner, then the musical In the Good Old Summertime. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan were the lovers in the 1998 film, You've Got Mail.

She Loves Me finally became a Broadway musical in 1963 and has had several successful revivals since then. The production at Barbara B. Mann Hall is a delight.

A scene projected on the back wall puts us in a European-looking town as Maestro Andrew Kurtz leads a scaled down Gulf Coast Symphony. We meet the employees of the perfume shop in the opening number, "Good Morning, Good Day" in which they agree they'd all rather be on a picnic than coming to work. Instead, they must deal with picky customers and their boss Mr. Maraczek (Mark David Kaplan). The voices of the cast, individually and in ensemble, are top notch. The score gives each of them the opportunity to shine.

Soon, Amalia Balash (Siri Howard) arrives and talks her way into a job, and the sparks start to fly between her and Georg Nowack (Bryce Pinkham). Howard, a little powerhouse, reminded me of Kristin Chenoweth.

Director/choreographer Max Quinlan gives us some entertaining stage business along with a little dancing. Even Maestro Kurtz gets into the act as he signifies the change of seasons by tossing first "leaves" and then "snow" into the air without missing a beat. The tango between Ilona (Larissa Klinger) and Kodaly (Dan Fenachty) is fun. Benjamin Russell as the maitre d' of the cafe where the "dear friends" are to meet is a scene stealer trying to maintain a romantic atmosphere despite the noisy tray juggling of local student Carson Maschmeier. And the title song gives Pinkham the whole stage on which to demonstrate his joy.

With the seating limitations imposed by Covid protocols, only a fraction of a normal audience is present. It occurred to me it must be disconcerting for the performers not to have the expected response when delivering laugh lines, of which there are many in this show. Fortunately, the cast members' comedic timing sees them through. If you need a pick me up and a happily ever after, this is the show for you.

She Loves Me runs through March 28. Call 239.481.4849 for tickets.


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