strongNancy Valev, Beacon Correspondent/strong
It all starts with a musical cigarette case. A bright-eyed, aspiring saleswoman spins some witty advertising lines and sells it off to a customer as a candy box, much to the awestruck dismay of the young man who had been working there for years. The piano chords strike and the harmonies crescendo as Emerson Stage’s musical rendition of the showem She Loves Me/em takes a powerful kickoff.
The show, directed by Head of Musical Theatre Stephen Terell, will run Nov. 30 to Dec. 4 in the Greene Theatre of the Tufte Center.
emShe Loves Me/em is set in post-WWI Budapest, and follows the lives and loves of the clerks at Maraczek’s Parfumerie, a neighborhood standby for scents, soaps, and beauty. The store’s manager, Mr. Maraczek, played by sophomore theater education and acting major Zak Stevens, pulls all the strings at the Parfumerie. At the center of the plot is the petty and incessant bickering between two rival salespeople, Georg, played by senior performing arts major Michael Bello, and Amalia, played by senior visual and media arts major Chelsea Williams.
The dramatic irony of it all is that each turns out to be the other’s secret, romantic pen pal. As they become more embittered at work, Georg and Amelia’s written correspondence grows fonder and fonder — culminating in the decision to finally meet in person.
The storyline may sound a bit familiar. Back when AOL reigned supreme, and every Internet visit began with that crunchy dial-up overture, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan starred in a movie called emYou’ve Got Mail/em. The 1998 rom-com was adapted from the Miklós László’s emParfumerie /em— the very same play that served as source material for emShe Loves Me/em.
“It’s fun, it’s flirty, it’s lighthearted,” said Michael Nieberer, a senior musical theater major who plays Steven Kodaly, the Casanova of the show. “It has some underlying serious tones mixed with just the right amount of humor.”
Subplots exploring the supporting characters gives the audience a glimpse of what’s occuring around the love/hate relationship of the protagonists. Some less-than-sunny moments in the show look at the internal struggles of the Parfumerie’s aging proprietor Mr. Maraczek.
But it’s not all mistaken identities and chorus lines in emShe Loves Me/em. The show’s darker themes remind the audience of the imperfections of daily life, grounding it in something bittersweet and realistic. The actors play this well with their subdued musical acts, yet manage to maintain the energy that keeps the show upbeat.
emShe Loves Me/em transports the audience to a different era. Everything from dignified air with which the actors carry themselves, right to the elegant speech makes one forget you are living in the 21st century. An immediately obvious chemistry and the natural ease of the actors’ performances prevents the show from drifting into cheesiness.
From the moment the show opens, it is clear, with the hustle and bustle of the shop, that the entire cast and crew love what they are doing and who they are working with.
“Our director, Stephen, is great to work with. He just knows the perfect comedic timing, and there are certain moments where you have to burst out laughing,” said senior musical theater major Jake Stempel, who plays the snobbish headwaiter.
The audience will not only be able to watch the show for pure entertainment, but also for the incredible energy that the actors feed off of each other.
Andrew Frank, a sophomore musical theater major in the ensemble, said, “It really gets your head out of the daily grind of stress.”
strongemShe Loves Me/em premieres Nov. 30 at 8:00 p.m. in the Green Theatre in the Tufte Center. It runs until Dec. 4. Tickets are $10 for the Emerson Community./strong
emNancy Valev can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org./em
Lauren Foley/Beacon Staff
[caption id=attachment_3814010 align=aligncenter width=400 caption=Much of the action in She Loves Me takes place at the Parfumerie, a local shop for perfume and beauty products. Lauren Foley/Beacon Staff]a href=http://berkeleybeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/DSC_0062.jpgimg class=size-full wp-image-3814010 title=DSC_0062 src=http://berkeleybeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/DSC_0062.jpg alt= width=400 height=267 //a[/caption]