BWW Review: Lyric Arts' SHE LOVES ME Channels Tangled True Love

BWW Review:  Lyric Arts' SHE LOVES ME Channels Tangled True Love
Hitchcock as Georg, Fried as Amalia

Spring's rebirth in March invites magical thoughts of budding romance. A beloved mulit-award winning musical rom-com, She Loves Me, sings in the sunny emotions and weather at Anoka's Lyric Arts. The playful musical first ran on Broadway in 1963, and was translated from Miklós László's 1937 play "Parfumerie." Joe Masteroff's book partnered with music composed by Jerry Bock together with lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, capture the perfect notes to a tangled romance between two store clerks, Amalia and Georg, in 1934 Budapest. The two clash on the small boutique's floor while unknowingly sending each other letters to 'Dear Friend (Yes, they used real snail mail).

A fifteen piece orchestra conducted by Louis Berg-Arnold adds a professional and "A Romantic Atmosphere" for the cast. With that exact title in this showstopping number courtesy of Choreographer Penelope Freeh, Head Waiter Brennan Veerman and the talented dance ensemble portray a lush, upscale cafe on the "first date" and meeting between the unsuspecting pen pals.

In this setting, the mystery friends plan their rendezvous. Joseph Hitchcock's Georg and Katherine Fried's Amalia embody the essence of romantic chemistry whether teasing each other in tirades working at the Parfumerie or in their imagining the perfect partner when they read each other's letter, while their superb voices highlight the musical.

Fried offers a beautiful rendition of "Will He Like Me?-" and an equally charming "Vanilla Ice Cream," two of the heartfelt melodies from the musical. After Amalia's and Georg's initial meeting fails miserably because neither identifies their letter writing, Georg braves bringing an infamous carton of ice cream as Amalia's boss to her apartment when she calls in sick. In true "Sex and the City" style, the Carrie Bradshaw crowd would be proud of Amalia for her frozen indulgence. This entire scene remembers how much the love 'dance' has actually remained the same except for technology that now lets couples swipe left or right to find a date.

On the opulent stage, designed by Mark Koski, Samantha Kuhn's period costumes complement a talented cast that includes Maxwell Ward (Arpad), Jonathan Goodman (Ladislav), Karissa Lade (Ilona), and Steven Meerdink (Mr. Marcazarek). In a twist of fate opening weekend, Kate Beahen filled in from the side stage with her memorable voice and acting ability in a delicate pinch without a single flaw when Lade suffered a throat malady, unable to sing. What a great tribute to these two actors, the company, and Director Scott Ford to believably stage in the adage "The show must go on!"

While this musical has been updated into the famous 1940 "Shop Around the Corner" and the 1998 "You've Got Mail," in She Loves Me, past "Lonely Hearts Clubs" abounded where snail mail letters now morph into email or every type of dating app in the universal search to find love: match.com, OK Cupid and Plenty of Fish to name only a few. Similar to Georg and Amalia, or the disenchanted Ilona and Mr. Maraczek, feminine and masculine souls diligently search for the excitement, hope and fulfillment a love connection provides in any time period.

In the 21st century, lonely hearts also pay professional matchmakers thousands of dollars to find that quintessential mate, the person who makes someone's heart sing to share life with. Perhaps in a world presently fixated on bullying, dark cynicism and recriminations, audiences will welcome love's illumination in the enchanting She Loves Me.

Spend a delightful evening at Lyric Arts and restore one's faith in handwritten notes, meet-cute connections, and reading literature that absolutely could lead to true love. Academy Award winning actress Frances McDormand met her husband Joel Coen in discussions over classical novels, who have been married since 1984. On stage through April 15, revel in Lyric Arts' She Loves Me for a night, and then take a break from online social media and actually write a note to the one that holds the keys to your heart-love's magic and mystery may arrive sooner rather than later this spring.

Lyric Arts Main Street Stage presents She Loves Me at 420 East Main Street through April 15. Or remember the company's annual benefit, An Evening with Kate & Louis on Saturday, May 19, or drop off a bottle of wine to assist with their efforts. For additional questions, performance schedule or tickets, please contact www.lyricarts.org or gina@lyricarts.org.




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From This Author Peggy Sue Dunigan

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