Los Angeles/Regional Theater Preview: SHE LOVES ME (The Chance Theater in Anaheim)

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by Tony Frankel on December 5, 2014

in Theater-Los Angeles,Theater-Regional


Erika C. Miller as Amalia and Stanton Kane Morales as GeorgI’ll be the first to admit that it may be impossible to create a bad production of the 1963 jewel-box musical She Loves Me. This perfect show, based on the 1937 play Parfumerie by Miklos Laszlo, is so resplendent, so charming, and so well-constructed that a 2011 gathering of literati for New York Magazine deemed it one of the best musicals ever written. This must-see, beguiling, gem of a chamber musical will leave you giddy with love, almost as if you gorged on sweet confections but magically had neither stomach ills nor toothache (it has been referred to as the “Ice Cream Musical” after a musical number made famous by original star Barbara Cook).

Beach Vickers as Maraczek and Stanton Kane Morales as GeorgThis is why the must-see theatrical event of the season is Chance Theater’s production, which opens this week and runs through Dec. 28. This amazing Orange County house has offered some of my favorite musical productions of the last four years: Jerry Springer: The Opera, The Who’s Tommy, West Side Story, and Merrily We Roll Along. Even musicals I consider poorly written (The Secret Garden, Lysistrata Jones, In the Heights) became palatable when this choice company, now in its new digs, wrapped them in love and an über-professional spin.

Amalia and Georg, employees at Maraczek’s 1930’s Hungarian parfumerie, take an Corky Loupe as Sipos and Stanton Kane Morales as Georgimmediate dislike to each other. After work, they find solace in writing to their respective lonely-hearts-club pen pals. Of course, neither suspects that the person they love on paper is the same person they detest on the job. If the story sounds familiar already, you may know it from the film adaptations of the play: The Shop Around the Corner (1940), In The Good Old Summertime (1949), and You’ve Got Mail (1998).

She Loves Me (Sheldon Harnick: lyrics, and Jerry Bock: music) contains numbers which not only feed the plot, but are character-driven as well. It is no accident that the following year (1964) Harnick & Bock would premiere a little Erika C. Miller as Amaliathing called Fiddler on the Roof (bookwriter Joe Masteroff’s next project was another little thing called Cabaret). All of the co-workers at the Parfumerie get a chance to shine.

Directed by Sarah Figoten Wilson, the She Loves Me team includes music direction by Taylor Stephenson (Triassic Parq—The Musical), choreography by Christopher M. Albrecht, and scenic and costume design by Bruce Goodrich.

Expect great singers and the highest caliber performances. The production will star Chance Theater founding artist Erika C. Miller, as well as Stanton Kane Morales, Camryn Zelinger, Corky Loupe, Taylor Stephenson, Beach Vickers, Daniel Jared Hersh, Tina Nguyen, Elizabeth Adabale, Eric T. Anderson, Erica Shaeffer, Katelyn Spurgin, Matt Takahashi, Shafik Wahhab and resident artist Laura M. Hathaway.

Matt Takahashi as The Waiter with Elizabeth Adabale, Tina Nguyen, Eric T. Anderson, Daniel Jared Hersh and Erica Shaeffer

Whether I have seen it polished or shaky—from an amateur high school performance in 1983 (where a pubescent tenor squeaked more than sang) to the Broadway revival in 1993 to Reprise’s minimal but astoundingly well-cast outing in 2003 to the imperfect but well-staged Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities in 2011, I have never walked away from She Loves Me less than uplifted, inspired and deeply satisfied.

Beach Vickers as Maraczek and Daniel Jared Hersh as Arpad

Taylor Stephenson a Kodaly and Camryn Zelinger as Ilonaphotos by Doug Catiller, True Image Studio

She Loves Me
Chance Theater
5522 E. La Palma Ave. in Anaheim
Fri at 8; Sat at 3 & 8; Sun at 2
ends on December 28, 2014
for tickets, call 714.777.3033 or visit Chance

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