Review by Tulis McCall
24 March 2016
If chocolate came without calories She Loves Me, now at Roundabout’s Studio 54 would be the show to make it happen. Whatever vestige of the rollicking days of mirror balls and disco madness that was imbibed in a variety of flavors remained in this hallowed space have now been officially irradiated. This production has scrubbed Studio 54 so clean it squeaks. Which is not a bad thing at all.
Based on the 1937 play Parfumerie by Miklós László that was made into not one but THREE Movies – The Shop Around the Corner (1940), with James Stewart, Frank Morgan, and Margaret Sullavan; as In the Good Old Summertime (1949), with Judy Garland, Van Johnson, and S. Z. Sakall and finally You’ve Got Mail (1998), with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, this show is proof that you cannot, cannot cannot kill a good story.
1934 Budapest – there is no mention of any political shenanigans anywhere – and a young couple Georg (Zachary Levi) and Amalia (Laura Benanti) looking for love in the classified section of an, egad, newspaper, find themselves enmeshed in a pretty hefty correspondence. In life they are occasionally brittle or annoying or worse. But on paper their hearts can sing away. And the best part is they NEVER have to meet. Ever, Ever. Ever. Why meet and risk not being attracted when they can go on forever just as they are – stuck in a rut with only dreams for bed-mates.
BUT!!! Wouldn’t you know it. Fate pulls them together to work in the same Parfumerie, owned by the benevolent Mr. Maraczek (Byron Jennings). Also on hand are the gal who can’t say no, Hona Ritter (Jane Krakowski) and the slippery but suave Steven Kodaly (Gavin Kreel) – the exact person to whom she cannot say it. A perceptive and easy going clerk who will agree with just about anything in order to keep his job is Ladislas Sipos (Michael McGrath) completes the group along with the delivery boy with ambitions Arpad Lazlo (Nicholas Barasch). And there you have it. Oh, there is intrigue and deceit. There is heartache and loss. There is danger and retribution. There is some spectacular dancing. And there is vanilla ice cream.
But most of all there is a budding romance that had a load of comedy folded into it. Fortunately both Benanti and Levi are excellent comedians. One hopes that Benanti will continue to find or create comedic rolls of herself for that is where she truly excels. Levi combines a bit of danger with goofiness and when love comes knocking he is ready for cartwheels. As the two begin to fall in love you can almost hear the audience whimpering like puppies.
When the clinch finally arrives, choreographed with a one-two-three gotcha, everyone applauds. As they should. This musical pulls you in and makes the entire evening a group effort. Directed by Scott Ellis (and with a stunning set by David Rockwell) this is one terrific package just in time for Spring.
And if you want a real treat – download the original cast album with Barbara Cook… That’s what i did. I’m just sayin’.
"This tasty tale of love lost and found at the workplace is the great vanilla ice cream musical."
Ben Brantley for New York Times
"Broadway’s bewitching new “She Loves Me” is as sweet and exhilarating as a first kiss."
Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News
"The entire cast of this spry production is flawless, with special kudos to comic MVPs Jane Krakowski (as a sultry minx) and Gavin Creel (as her mustachioed Lothario)."
Elisabeth Vincentelli for New York Post
"The Roundabout gets so much right in a splendid, joy-stuffed production: casting, design and even the reduced orchestra."
David Cote for Time Out New York
"An astounding cast, a nifty story and memorable songs turn this revival into a celebration of classic musical construction."
Mark Kennedy for Associated Press
"Roundabout Theatre Company's enchanting staging of She Loves Me sends a message straight to the heart of romantic musical comedy lovers."
David Rooney for Hollywood Reporter
"Laura Benanti and Zachary Levi are endearing as the shy lovers in this intimate romantic comedy, the supporting cast (including Jane Krakowski) constitutes a dream team, and the stagecraft is absolutely flawless."
Marilyn Stasio for Variety
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