BY HOLLY JOHNSON
The musical “She Loves Me,” based on a play by Miklos Lazlo, takes place in an elegant 1930s perfume shop where two of the employees are in love, but don’t know it. They’ve been corresponding for ages by letter, but don’t realize who one another is until the story’s end.
The frothy, fun show was a hit when it opened in 1963, and one can see why from the fineLakewood Theatre production. The characters are more than caricatures, the plot, though predictable, hums along, a sweet humor abounds and the tunes by composer Jerry Brock and lyricist Sheldon Harnick are ones we hum on the way out of the theater (“Twelve Days til Christmas,” “She Loves Me,” and “Vanilla Ice Cream” among them). With smart direction byTobias Andersen, the production is a delight to behold, with wonderful chorus numbers, smart choreography by Laura Hiszezynsksyj and the typical top-notch musical direction by Jon Quesenberry manning an excellent orchestra upstage.
The vocal are uneven in the show, but the chorus is strong. Stacey Murdock takes away all honors as the top vocalist here. He plays a suave lady’s man who works in the parfumerie. He’s delightfully oily and archly funny. Murdock has a solid operatic background and shows it off nicely.
As the two unwitting lovers and feuding co-workers Georg and Amalia, Paul Angelo and the lovely Dru Rutledge are a charming fit. She’s feisty, and he’s gentle. Rutledge has the lion’s share of songs and a good voice, but it felt strained on opening night. Cassie Q. Kohl is a lot of fun as the sexy, man-seeking Ilona who finds love when she meets an optometrist at the library, and in the delightful song “A Trip to the Library,” she tells the story. There’s some great tango dancing in the cafe scene featuring leggy Sydney Weir in a smashing low-backed dress and David M. Brown as her partner.
John Gerth’s set design is functional and very attractive, with arched entrance ways that drop down the create different settings, all inspired by Art Nouveau: So very Hungarian. Costumer Pat Rohrbach has gone all out with furs and print ’30s dresses, perky hats of the era. Amalia’s red dress and hat brighten up the stage. The show is a visual treat. Chanel No. 5, anyone?
“She Loves Me” runs through Dec. 21 Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. There are two Wednesday performances at 7:30 p.m. (Nov. 19 and Dec. 10). No performance on Thanksgiving. Contactwww.lakewood-center.org or call 503-635-3901.