For this season’s musical, Regent University Theatre (RUT) brings you a charming but fluffy love story with little takeaway.
Before diving into what works and what doesn’t, allow me to set the stage for RUT’s latest musical. She Loves Me was written by Joe Masteroff, with lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and music by Jerry Bock. These individuals have also helped create shows such as Fiddler on the Roof and Cabaret. Premiering on Broadway in 1963, She Loves Me is set in a 1930’s Budapest, in a frilly parfumerie, where all manner of perfumes and beauty products are sold. Two of the shop clerks, Georg and Amalia, get along terribly at work but are unaware they are each other’s secret pen pals and have been sending love letters back and forth. While their love/hate relationship takes some humorous twists, drama unfolds around the other workers of the shop as well.
This particular musical is based on a 1937 play called Parfumerie. The play also inspired the film The Shop Around the Corner, which in turn inspired the musical In the Good Old Summertime. While watching She Loves Me, I had the distinct feeling I’d seen the story before, and that’s because the 1998 film You’ve Got Mail, was also based on the original play in 1937. As you can now see, She Loves Me is only one of a number of adaptations. So while the story is familiar, it lacks originality. It’s full of color but also clichés, and though the characters are loveable, the show ultimately leaves little to remember.
The Cast. Each member of the cast brings an enormous amount of energy to their character and the show as a whole. Adam Silorey stars as Georg in a charming performance reminiscent of James Stewart’s George Bailey, one of those genuine characters you can’t help but root for. Mia Ritter plays his opposite, the spunky Amalia with a voice like an angel. Playing other shop clerks are Beth Guarnieri who shines as Ilona, Brandon Wetch as the narcissistic Kodaly, Kyle Sapienza as the charming Ladislav , and Lyeneal Griffin as the young and eager Arpad. Rounding out the cast is John Forkner as charismatic Mr. Maraczek and Jahmeel Powers in a small but hilarious role as the Headwaiter. The ensemble also adds fun and flair with their choreography and pizzazz.
The Set and Lighting. I have yet to see a RUT performance without stellar design, and She Loves Me is no exception. The stage glows in bright pinks and blues, illuminating the story and songs. The set is quaint and not too elaborate, allowing the characters to fill it with their bright performances.
The Humor. There are plenty of surprising twists in this show, leading to many humorous moments that hit just the right beats.
What Doesn’t Work:
The Music. Sadly, the show’s strength does not come from its musical numbers, which are easily forgettable. The numbers are not catchy, with melodies that seem to jump around during the song. There are a few moments of clever wordplay, but for the most part the songs all sound the same and do little to drive the characters or the plot forward. They act more like fillers, occupying the space between scenes.
The Plot. Likewise, the plot of She Loves Me is not too commendable, strengthened only in this particular performance by its wonderful cast. There is very little development for any of the characters, and the love/hate relationship feels like something we’ve all seen before. While there is a lot of heart in this musical, there is almost no depth. This causes the end of the show to feel somewhat flat, without much to takeaway from it.
I’d compare watching this performance of She Loves Me to eating cotton candy. It’s fun, fluffy, and colorful – sugary sweet and enjoyable in the moment. But there is a lack of substance to it, and it disappears quickly when it’s over. She Loves Me might be a musical to enjoy, but likely not one to remember.
Performance dates and times can be found on this article’s featured image. To purchase tickets, you can visit the Regent University box office in the Communications Building (Monday through Friday, 1-5 p.m.) or go online.
Andrew Corder is a Department Head for the Daily Runner.