Hale Centre Theatre Presents SHE LOVES ME, Now thru 9/27

She Loves Me is a perfect musical that will quickly become a favorite for audiences at Hale Centre Theatre (HCT). The story of pen pals falling in love without realizing they already know each other has been retold many times, but Director David Tinney said She Loves Me remains the best. She Loves Me runs at Hale, Utah's Premiere Family Theatre, from tonight, August 19, to Saturday, September 27.

"This show is one of the most perfectly written musicals in musical theatre literature," Tinney said. "The music reveals characters and relationships so beautifully and efficiently, it forwards plot and conflict, and nothing is extraneous or overt. It is such a subtle, charming piece."

The Tony award-winning musical, with a book by Joe Masteroff, music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, is set in Budapest in the 1930s, with stylish costuming and sets to complement the setting. Two coworkers, Georg and Amalia, answer a "Lonely Hearts" advertisement in the newspaper and begin to fall in love through their correspondence without realizing the other is their pen pal. The story is based on the play Parfumerie by Miklós László, which was adapted into movies like The Shop Around the Corner and You've Got Mail.

Although the show is set eight decades in the past, Derek Smith, one of the actors double cast as Georg, said it is so universal that modern audiences will identify with the emotions and the story of getting to know and falling in love with someone they haven't met in person. He said the musical is so beautifully written that it's easy to love each person in the story.

"Normally in a show there are only a couple of characters that you spend time developing their character and their story, but in this show you spread the love out and people get invested in the cast. They'll have a hard time picking their favorite," he said.

One of the strengths of She Loves Me compared to other musicals is that the music actually tells the story and grows the characters, said Anne Puzey, musical director. She said it's not the type of musical where people stop, sing a song and then go back to the story. Instead, the music plays an integral part in plot and character development.

"The songs are just charming," she said. "I think people will smile through the music. The songs are bright, charming and don't feel dated at all."

Amy Keeler, who is double cast as Amalia, said the music allows her to express vulnerability and lets the audience connect with Amalia. The insecurity and anxiety Amalia expresses over not knowing whether her love will be returned is something everyone has experienced, and Keeler said audiences will love the way the songs portray that.

Tinney said, "I think She Loves Me is the best version of the story. The music really enhances the romance of the characters and heightens the comedy. It has an old-fashioned charm that modern movies rarely capture."

Hale Centre Theatre's She Loves Me is directed and choreographed by Tinney and features Keeler and Rachel Hansen as Amalia Balash; Derek Smith and David Smith as Georg Nowack; Megan Heaps and Suzie Balser as Ilona Ritter; and David Martin and Ben Henderson as Steven Kodaly. Set design is by Kacey Udy, music direction by Puzey, costume design by Amanda Reiser and Peggy Willis, sound design by Shane Steel, lighting design by Adam Flitton; hair and make-up design by Krissa Lent; and properties by Michelle Jensen.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, August 19 to September 27, with Saturday matinees at 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. There is no performance on September 10. Admission is $27 for adults and $16 for children ages 5 to 11. Tickets may be purchased online at www.hct.org, via telephone at 801.984.9000, or at the Hale Centre Theatre box office, 3333 South Decker Lake Drive in West Valley City.

In conjunction with the production, HCT is honoring House of Hope as part of its "HCT Applauds" program to spotlight other non-profit organizations making a difference in the community. House of Hope provides addiction recovery and behavioral health services that help reclaim and rebuild lives, strengthen families, instill accountability and promote personal growth.

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