by Lorraine Payette, written June 10, 2014
(Gananoque, ON) Opening on June 21, the Thousand Islands Playhouse will be dancing its way into your heart with the largest cast musical they’ve performed in years. “She Loves Me” promises to be a feast of sight and sound, with 13 gifted performers bringing you the story of a nervous young woman, Amalia Balash (Alison MacDonald) and Georg Nowack (Ron Pederson), the manager of Maraczek’s Parfumerie. The bane of each others existence in the workplace, each is so certain they’d be happier if they never had to see each other at all. As they both indulge in their favourite passion and stress reliever of writing and receiving letters from their secret pen pals, neither realizes that this is about to become the most wonderful summer in 1930’s Budapest that either of them could ever imagine.
“She Loves Me is a funny, romantic and captivating show with beautiful music that audiences will fall deeply in love with,” says Director Ashlie Corcoran. “Each song tells a vivid and meaningful story about every character’s search for love and security — human instincts that we can all relate to.”
The original story, “Parfumerie” by Hungarian playwright Miklos Laszlo, may be more familiar to audience members as the basis behind the films “The Shop Around the Corner” (1940), “In the Good Old Summertime” (1949) and “You’ve Got Mail” (1998). “She Loves Me” is a Tony Award-winning musical that played Broadway in 1963, and proves that a good love story is not only timeless, but something that we want to imitate again and again.
Familiar faces populate the cast of this great production. Theatre goers may look forward to performances by Alison MacDonald (Spelling Bee, Suds — 2013; The Marvelous Wonderettes — 2011), Kristin Galer (Spelling Bee, Suds — 2013; Little Shop of Horrors, Nunsense 2 — 2012) and Antonette Rudder (Little Shop of Horrors – 2012), as well as debut performances by Ken James Stewart, Douglas Hughes, Kevin McGarry, Ron Pederson, Sheldon Davis, Michael Hughes, Alan Kliffer, James Daly, Margaret Thompson, and Shannon Coulter.
“‘She Loves Me’ is one of my favourite musicals,” says Corcoran. “I’ve been thinking about doing it on this stage since I was a university student at Queen’s. There are two co-workers who detest each other. Meanwhile, they are also writing secret pen pal love letters to someone they’ve met in an ad. Of course, eventually they realize that they are writing to each other and they have to get over this feeling of hatred that they have for each other.”
Staging was more complex for a show of this size, but Corcoran has managed to bring the right people with the right skills together to make it all happen. From music to sets, to costumes, lights, sound and choreography, everything is polished and ready to go.
“A bit of historical research never hurts,” says Douglas Hughes (Ladislav Sipos). “It’s neat to know that stuff just as background information. It’s a comfortable range for me vocally, so I didn’t have to worry too much about that. We’re in very good hands with Greg (musical director).”
“The stage direction describes the character of Georg as a ‘very average man’,” says Ron Pederson. “So I’ve been studying average men in their natural habitat. I really loved the play when I read it, I’ve learned all of my lines and lyrics, and now my process is going to be just playing in the room with the ensemble and making it happen. I think the audience will sense that energy of play when they see it.”
“One of the things I like about this show is that it’s a classic golden age Broadway musical,” says Greg Gibson, music director. “Most recently I’ve been doing more the pop rock type of show, and while those are great, this type of show takes a completely different skill set. It’s very different from ‘Suds’ and ‘Spelling Bee’, so it’s very nice to go back to that golden age. It’s a lot of fun. It’s by the same composers as ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, so you listen to it and wonder what they were thinking, who was originally cast and how do we adapt that to work for our cast for this production. It’s great to be able to do a big musical in a very compact way.”
“She Loves Me” runs from June 20 – July 19, 2014, at the Springer Theatre, 690 Charles Street South in Gananoque, Ontario. Running time for the play is 2 hours, 30 minutes. Show times are Tuesday through Saturday 8:00 pm, with matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 pm (starting the Wednesday after opening night). Tickets are $32 for adults, $30 for seniors age 65+, $16 for students. HST is applicable to all ticket prices. Group tickets are available at $26 – $28 each including GST. This show is recommended for people of all ages. For more information, please go to http://www.1000islandsplayhouse.com or contact the box office at 613-382-7020.