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Alison MacDonald as Amalia. Photo: Jay Kopinski
Alison MacDonald as Amalia. Photo: Jay Kopinski

Theatre Review: "She Loves Me" at the 1000 Islands Playhouse

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This too often neglected romantic musical comedy sparkles at the 1000 Islands Playhouse in Gananoque. It runs through July 29.

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The 1000 Islands Playhouse is running a wonderful production of the musical romantic comedy “She Loves Me.”  With music and lyrics by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, who also wrote, among other, “Fiddler on the Roof,” and book by Joe Masteroff, it’s always been a favorite of mine.  Being a geezer, I saw the original Broadway production in the 60s and, since it’s not often done, was really looking forward to this production.  I was not disappointed.  “She Loves Me” is just as much fun and as tuneful as I remembered.

The plot revolves around two co-workers in a parfumerie in 1930s Hungary who constantly squabble, unaware of the fact that they are each others’ anonymous pen pals.  Your imagination can take it from there.

Ron Pederson as Georg. Photo: Jay Kopinski
Ron Pederson as Georg. Photo: Jay Kopinski
This fine cast of six principals and an ensemble of three women and three men are all excellent singers.  Not only that, they can all act and boy can the ensemble dance!  Space precludes me from mentioning all their names, but I have to say that Ron Pederson as Georg and Alison MacDonald as Amalia, the two lovers, are right on the money.  Miss MacDonald sings beautifully in a difficult role originally written for Barbara Cook.

The unlucky in love Ilona, well-played by Kristin Galer, has one of my all-time favorite lyrics, “I must stop thinking with my skin.”  Douglas Hughes displays a nice subtle comic flair as Sipos and Kevin McGarry does justice to ladies’ man Kodaly.

Gillian Gallo has designed a semi-deco set with lovely curved overhead arches.  The door of the shop revolves to show either the exterior or interior.  It transforms gracefully to an intimate café and in Act II to Amalia’s bedroom.  Her costumes are just plain terrific, particularly those for the rotating customers.  Michelle Ramsay’s lighting is very good, as is Michael Laird’s sound that maintains a nice balance between the actors and the orchestra.

Speaking of the orchestra, Music Director Greg Gibson has done a fine job of re-orchestrating the score for the excellent six-piece ensemble.  The vocals all sound good and the ensemble has a nice blend.  You can also understand all the tricky lyrics of the group vocals – quite a feat!

Shelly Stewart Hunt has come up with clever choreography, especially for the hilarious “A Romantic Atmosphere,” Sipos’ solo, “Where’s My Shoe?” and “Twelve Days to Christmas.”

Director Ashlie Corcoran has assembled an accomplished cast and creative team and has ended up with a splendid production.  I don’t know if she or Miss Hunt is responsible for the staged and underscored set changes, but they work very well.  Best of all, the cast creates believable and three dimensional characters that they maintain whether speaking or singing.

This light-hearted tale is perfect summer fare.  If you’ve never seen “She Loves Me,” don’t miss the opportunity to see this musical gem.  If you have seen it, go again and enjoy.

On a scale of one to five the 1000 Islands Playhouse production of "She Loves Me" gets five fish.  For North Country Public Radio I’m Connie Meng.

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