BWW Review: SHE LOVES ME at South Bay Music Theatre
There's a mist of romance in the air as South Bay Music Theatre automizes a scent of romance with the hit musical "She Loves Me". This scintillating tale of love lost and found at the workplace was the 1993 Tony Award winner for best revival. Written by Joe Masteroff (book), Jerry Bock (music) and Sheldon Harnick (lyrics), this SBMT production, directed by Martin Rojas Dietrich, it's sure to charm and delight (especially for date night)!.
Set in a 1930s European perfumery, we find secret pen pals whose love blossoms before they've even met. Inside the posh Maraczek's Parfumerie we find feuding shop clerks Amalia and Georg, who are coincidentally each others anonymous correspondents known to each other only as "Dear Friend." Their co-workers encourage the romance, with a few question marks thrown in along the way, aiding and abetting the love-stricken couple.
When they finally arrange a meeting at the Cafe Impériale, Georg arrives and realizes that Amalia is his pen-pal yet he does not reveal to her his true identity. Amalia is heart-broken thinking that she has been stood up, so Georg reassures her that he indeed knows her love and tells her that he was just detained that night. Amalia calls in sick to work so .Georg shows up at her apartment with ice cream to make her feel better and Amalia begins to wonder who this new, kinder, Georg really is. The fate of the lovers hinges on whether Georg can muster the courage on Christmas Eve to confess to the correspondence.
Benjamin Hatch, as Georg Nowack, delivers scenes of well-timed comic moments that keep the show fun and light hearted. Hatch's assured musicality pairs well with Marie Finch (as Amalia Balash) just as her comedic pace matches perfectly to his. Finch is a fantastic vocalist whose clear and resonant tone, and perfect enunciation, make her a true standout in this production (may we have some more "Ice Cream" please). Together, the two capture the spirit of the characters along with the hearts of the audience.
This entire cast really delivers. There are the likes of the smarmy lover Steven Kodaly (played by Carlos A Nunez Carillo, who is frequently pawing at the gorgeous Ilona Ritter (played by Jessica Whittemore). Whittemore, like Finch, is vocally gifted and their duet "I Don't Know His Name" is another standout moment in the show.
Stephen Sammonds (as Ladislav Sipos) as the go-between shop keeper, Don Nguyen (as a hilarious Maitre D'), Parker Hough (as Arpad Laszlo) delivery boy turned mature shop sales clerk, and Ethan Glasman (the dancing waiter) all provide memorable turns in roles that give the show added depth.
A tip of the baton to Joseph Kelly, Musical Director, and Daniel Hughes, Vocal Director, for crafting a musically brilliant show. It's not always the case that a local production can rise to this high a level with each number, but this one truly does. The ensemble is just as strong as the primary characters, and the orchestra is impressive. I warn you, if you arrive late and miss the opening of this show you'll have missed something special.A shout out to Sound Designers, Dan Singletary and Chris Willmore, because I could hear every word, sound effect, and instrument perfectly - in balance. Brett Carlson's set design is full of charm and architectural expression. Completing the production team are: Jillian Toby-Cummings (Choreographer), Y. Sharon Peng (Costume designer), Gwyneth Price Panos (Hair & Make-up Designer), Miranda Whipple (Props Designer), Alexandra Maisonneuve Teixeira ( Stage Manager), Chris Beer (Technical Director), Patti Reed (Associate Production Mgr.), and Sara K. Dean (Executive Director).
"She Loves Me" premiers this weekend at the South Bay Musical Theatre (SBMT) in Saratoga. The delectable musical comedy runs through February 15th . SBMT performs at the Saratoga Civic Theater, 13777 Fruitvale Ave, Saratoga, CA. For more information about the show and tickets contact SouthBayMT.com or call 408-266-4734.
Photo's courtesy of SBMT