Musical review: She Loves Me

I’m really surprised that I was totally unaware of She Loves Me, the musical that my wife, my daughter and I saw at Capital Rep in Albany on Christmas Eve. I recognized only one song, the title tune.

It was first performed on Broadway in 1963, with the late, legendary Barbara Cook in the lead role of Amalia and a guy named Daniel Massey, son of Raymond Massey of Dr. Kildare fame, as Georg. The lecherous Steven was played by Jack Cassidy, father of David and Shaun. There have been three revivals, most recently in 2016.

Moreover, the music was by Jerry Bock and the lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, the composers of my second-favorite musical ever, Fiddler on the Roof. She Loves Me is based on a 1937 play called Parfumerie by Hungarian writer Miklos Laszlo.

Before She Loves Me, there was the 1940 movie The Shop Around the Corner with Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart. Then was the movie In the Good Old Summertime (1949) with Judy Garland and Van Johnson, music by George Stoll and Robert Van Eps. The 1998 movie You’ve Got Mail, with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, mines the same basic plot.

And that is: guy meets gal, who pretty much dislike each other from the get-go, as she is hired to work in the perfume shop where he’s been working for a decade and a half. Yet they’ve been corresponding fervently through a lonely-hearts club.

The Cap Rep production featured a nifty set, terrific costumes, and great, often stylish songs that generally advance the plot.

Amalia is played by actress Julia Barrows. Independently, my wife and I decided that she reminded us a little of Cate Blanchett physically. In the story from the local paper, Barrows said she first saw She Loves Me at a performing arts high school that her older sister attended.

“I have always wanted to do this show,” she said. “It’s the musical that made me fall in love with theaterand say, ‘This is what I want to do with my life.'” And it showed.

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