October 8, 2022 – SHE LOVES ME, a musical by Bock and Harnick at CCM

The story is set in Budapest, in the 1930’s. In Mr. Maraczek’s perfume store two employees: Georg Nowack and Amalia Balash are constantly bickering, not aware that they are each other’s secret pen pals – back in the days when folks wrote letters in longhand. One thing leads to another, and boy and girl fall in love.

She Loves Me is a musical with operetta DNA, which is kind of surprising since the team of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick authored, among other shows Fiddler on the Roof, and Anatefka and Budapest are worlds apart.

She Loves Me is patterned after Parfumerie a play by Miklós László, which was made first into a film with James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, then reshaped beyond recognition into a film musical with Judy Garland and Van Johnson, and finally transformed into another movie with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Thankfully Bock and Harnick stayed true to the European flavor of the original play.

In the central role of Amalia, Jess Zylstra – a lovely soprano, shone in several of her quasi-operatic numbers, especially in the Vanilla Ice Cream scene. Jack D’Angelo held his own as Georg, especially with She loves me, the show’s title song. Surrounded by a terrific cast of triple-threats Zoey Johnson stood out as the comical and sexy Ilona.

The youthful cast was kept in shape by Eric Byrd, a bright young director-choreographer who worked wonders with the tricky Cohen Theatre open stage.

Ian Axness led the small band of multi-instrumentalists beautifully, not merely accompanying but bringing to life Jerry Bock’s tuneful score.

Normally I would end my comments with a mention of upcoming performances of the show, but with this post coming up at the end of the run, all I can do now is remind those reading this that the outrageously funny satire of musicals Something Rotten opens on October 20th and runs for ten performances on the Patricia Corbett at CCM.

I wouldn’t miss it if I were you

Rafael de Acha © 2022

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