This light and bubbly musical is a sheer delight both musically and performance wise.
If there is one thing that is true it is that the line between love and hate is very close indeed – and it is this concept which forms the centre of this delightful musical adapted from the 1937 play Parfumerie by Hungarian playwright Miklós László.
Set in and around a cosmetics shop, for shop employees Georg Nowack and Amalia Balash it is dislike at first sight as they squabble over everything – without realising that they are secretly writing to each other, having met through lonely heart adverts. They are surrounded by colourful fellow employees including the slimy Kodaly, unhappily married Mr Maraczek, and the bubbly Ilona – forming a lovely bubble in which to set the story around.
Featuring music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, there are plenty of hummable tunes to be found throughout including the perky opening number ‘Good Morning, Good Day’ and the utterly charming ‘I Don’t Know His Name’. Each song fits in beautifully with the context of the story, creating a seamless and enjoyable show while deepening the characters own understanding of their own situations.
While perhaps Joe Masteroff’s book is slightly flimsy, it still manages to have enough charm and humour to carry it through right to the end – particularly as it dawns on Amalia who her pen pal is. Some may find the story a bit too sugary sweet for their tastes, but thanks to Scott Ellis’s lively and playful production it always comes across as sincere – as the scene in which Amalia is waiting patiently for her pen pal to show up proves.
There is also much to be enjoyed visually – with David Rockwell’s set proving to be a real delight in the way it opens, closes and shifts to various parts of the shop with great ease and is authentic, matched well with Jeff Mahshie’s lovely costume designs.
In terms of performances, particular highlights come from Jane Krakowski’s Ilona whose frustrations with Gavin Creel’s suitably sleazy Kodaly leads to a brilliantly charismatic rendition of ‘I Resolve’. Her light and bubbly performance is utterly adorable. Peter Bartlett is also equally hilarious as the head waiter determined to keep the ‘romantic atmosphere’ in his cafe. Meanwhile, Zachary Levi as the slightly goofy but likeable Georg and Laura Benanti as the initially thorny Amalia have a strong chemistry and ability to really bounce off each other’s lines that comes across really well during their moments of squabbling.
Filled with charm and gorgeous songs it is hard not to watch this story unfold without having a smile on your face. A really sweet and likeable musical.
By Emma Clarendon
She Loves Me is available to watch through Broadway HD.