Most people have seen some version of She Loves Me, the holiday show onstage now at PlayMakers Repertory Company under the direction of Kirsten Sanderson. Or rather, most people have seen some version of Parfumerie, the original play on which this work and many others are based. Famed films The Shop Around the Corner and You’ve Got Mail both draw their inspiration from the original work, for example.
That’s because this story is the type of story that is timeless and entertaining, making it a perfect pick for the holidays. The story, with book by Joe Masteroff, takes place in Hungary in the 1930s. More specifically, a large portion of it takes place at and around Maraczek’s Parfumerie, which is beautifully brought to life through an authentic, perfectly detailed set.
The audience is quickly introduced to the employees who work at the shop, including the young bachelor Georg (Michael Maliakel), Mr. Maraczek (Ray Dooley) himself, and the colorful Ilona Ritter (Janet Krupin).
As a normal day in the shop progresses, in bursts Amala Balash portrayed by Jenny Latimer with all the whooshing gusto, charm, and energy the character calls for. Balash is in desperate need of a job and, by showing off her selling skills, she gets one, much to the chagrin of Georg, who has taken an instant dislike to her.
The story progresses quickly from there, moving hilariously through the seasons with sprinkles of “snow” and falling leaves. Mr. Maraczek grows grumpy and cold toward Georg for mysterious reasons, their relationship growing strained. And, both Georg and Amalia, who seem to like each other less and less each day, pine over the letters they write to a person they have never met.
Delightful songs, plenty of humor, and a fun “rom-com” vibe guide the story along, complete with bits of playful choreography sprinkled throughout. And, while the story may be somewhat formulaic, that doesn’t stop it from being any less enjoyable of a ride. Fast set and scene changes keep things moving quickly, and it’s also nice that there is just so much to look at here.
The set is always sparkling and full of tiny, tucked-away details that keep things interesting. The costumes are equally intricate too, right down to the back-seamed stockings. And, the lively cast keeps up the fun.
Maliakel and Latimer play well off of each other; one can almost feel the spark of energy between them. Dooley also stands out here, perfectly balancing the hapless nature of his character with real likeability.
As the show winds to a close and all the mysteries are resolved, this play leaves viewers with a warm, fuzz feeling. And, really, is there any better (or more appropriate) way to feel during the holiday season?
PlayMakers Repertory Company presents SHE LOVES ME at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 23, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 24, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 27-30, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1, 2 p.m. Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4-8, and 2 p.m. Dec. 9 in the Paul Green Theatre in the Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art, 150 Country Club Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514, on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.
TICKETS: $15-$48 ($10 UNC students and $12 other college students), with discounts for UNC faculty and staff and U.S. military personnel, except $15 general admission ($10 for UNC students with ID) on Community Night (Tuesday, Dec. 4th).
BOX OFFICE: 919-962-PLAY, firstname.lastname@example.org, or https://tickets.playmakersrep.org/.
GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919-962-PLAY (7529), email@example.com, or http://www.playmakersrep.org/box-office/groups-and-special-events/.
SHOW: http://playmakersrep.org/show/she-loves-me/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/337264540355698/.
VIDEO PREVIEW: https://youtu.be/Qye5_Ta0syg.
PRC NEWS RELEASE: http://playmakersrep.org/press/tony-award-winning-musical-loves-takes-holiday-stage-playmakers-repertory-company/.
2018-19 SEASON (Shifting Ground: Theatre That Moves): http://playmakersrep.org/season/2018-2019/
PRESENTER: http://www.playmakersrep.org/, https://www.facebook.com/playmakersrep, https://twitter.com/playmakersrep, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayMakers_Repertory_Company, and http://www.youtube.com/user/PlayMakersRep.
PRC BLOG (Page to Stage): http://playmakersrep.blogspot.com/.
VENUE: http://playmakersrep.org/aboutus/paulgreen and http://unchistory.web.unc.edu/building-narratives/paul-green-theatre/.
NOTE 1: All shows are wheelchair accessible, and assistive-listening devices will be available at all performances.
NOTE 2: There will be a FREE post-show discussions, with members of the cast and creative team, following the show’s 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25th, performances.
NOTE 3: There will be an Open Captioning Performance at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1st (for more information, click here).
NOTE 4: The Psychoanalytic Center of the Carolinas will sponsor a FREE post-show Mindplay psychoanalytic discussion after the show’s 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2nd, performance.
She Loves Me (1963 Broadway, 1964 West End, and 1965 Off-Broadway musical): https://www.mtishows.com/she-loves-me (Music Theatre International), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/she-loves-me-7927 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/Production/6078 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/She_Loves_Me (Wikipedia).
Study Guide: https://www.roundabouttheatre.org/Roundabout/media/Roundabout/PDF/UPSTAGE/2015-2016/SheLovesMe_UpstageGuide_Web.pdf (Roundabout Theatre Company of New York, NY).
Jerry Bock (music, 1928-2010): https://masterworksbroadway.com/artist/jerry-bock/ (The Official Masterworks Broadway Site), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/11434 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/jerry-bock-11403 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0090656/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Bock (Wikipedia).
Sheldon Harnick (lyrics): https://masterworksbroadway.com/artist/sheldon-harnick/ (The Official Masterworks Broadway Site), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/11436 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/sheldon-harnick-8645 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0363676/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheldon_Harnick (Wikipedia).
Joe Masteroff (book, 1919-2018): http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/2153 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/joe-masteroff-6762 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0557646/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Masteroff (Wikipedia).
Kirsten Sanderson (director): https://www.kirstensanderson.com/ (official website), http://playmakersrep.org/artists/kirsten-sanderson/ (PlayMakers Rep bio), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/7284 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/kirsten-sanderson-73791 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://www.imdb.com/name/nm8997960/ (Internet Movie Database).
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.triangleartsreview.com/, http://www.susiepotter.com, and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.