Reviewed by Bobby Franklin
If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by holiday shopping I would suggest you take a couple of hours away from the madness and stop by to see the Greater Boston Stage Company’s production of She Loves Me. This very warm musical, which had its first run in 1963, will be familiar to many of you who have seen the movie The Shop Around The Corner. The story about a romance that began through letters and involves mistaken identity is funny, touching, and warm. It is also quite enjoyable.
Of course, with Jennifer Ellis in one of the lead roles you could never be disappointed. Ms Ellis is a positively outstanding talent with a superb singing voice and amazing acting ability. I would pay just to see her read the phone book. Yes, she is that good.
Ellis, as Amalia Balash, an Sam Simark, who takes on the role of Georg Nowack, have an onstage chemistry that is magical. Having such a wonderful score to showcase their voices doesn’t hurt.
The play is set in Hungary as Christmas approaches and revolves around the romances both Amalia and Georg are having via mail (not email, but the ones you have to put a stamp on and deposit in a mailbox, remember those?), with people they have not yet met. It turns out the two have been writing to one another without realizing it, which becomes more complicated when Amalia gets a job at Maraczak’s, a perfumery, where Georg is already employed. The two do not hit it off well. The confusion draws in the other employees of the store as well as Mr. Maraczak (Tom Gleadow) who is also dealing with a case of mistaken identity.
Local favorite Jared Trolio plays the obnoxious Steven Kodaly who is pursuing fellow employee Ilona Ritter played by Aimee Doherty. Trolio is just wonderful in the number Ilona, which has a bit of a Mambo beat. Ms Doherty will have you smiling with A Trip To The Library.
A Romantic Atmosphere with Nick Sulfaro as the maitre d’ of a local restaurant is one of many stand out numbers that include Tonight At Eight (Georg), Vanilla Ice Cream (Amalia), and Where’s My Shoe (Amalia and Georg). Perspective sung by employee Ladislav Sipos (Robert Saoud) is filled with advice on how to keep your job. The delivery boy and aspiring clerk Arpad (Brendan Callahan) appeals for a promotion in Try Me. It would be very hard to refuse him after hearing this musical resume.
The story is not a complicated one, but it is so enjoyable to watch. The musical numbers are just wonderful and with Musical Director Matthew Stern at the helm the orchestration is tight. Choreography is by director Ilyse Robbins and is smooth and light.
While the entire cast and production are wonderful, Ms Ellis and Mr. Simahk are positively great. This is a play worth seeing. It will leave you with a big smile on your face.
She Loves Me
Through December 23rd
The Greater Boston Stage Company