Often, when someone discovers that I am a theater geek, they inevitably ask me my favorite musical of all time . And to be honest, it changes depending on the day. But there is one that is always in my top three: She Loves Me. Why? Because it is unabashedly romantic, and is romantic in the most simple way – it’s no coincidence that teh story has been adapted on the big screen numerous times, from ‘The Shop Around the Corner’ up to ‘You’ve Got Mail’ And, it has a fantastic score by Sheldon Harnick – no clunker in the songs, with a wonderful musical thread that permeates the whole score. And of course, perfume lover that I am, is there any setting better than a parfumerie in 1930s Budapest?
And this new revival, directed by Scott Ellis, by The Roundabout Theater Company at Studio 54 is a gem, mainly because of its attractive and talented quartet of a cast. Gavin Creel is a deliciously fey Steven Kodaly, and Jane Krakowski as Ilona is diva in the best possible way. And Zachary Levi is charm personified. I was astounded by the tears in my face after he finished singing the title song – so much joy in one performance it overflowed up to Columbus Circle. At first I was a but put off by Laura Benanti – Amelia should be vulnerable which Benanti is never – but she wins you over, and her beautiful soprano will bring you to heaven. I think I can listen to a day scored by an infinite loop of ‘Will He Like Me,” and I will still not tire of it. I cannot think of an ensemble cast so in tune (well, yes, Hamilton’s is, as well, but…) that every note, every chord, every harmony here is pure sparkle. obviously, I never saw the 1963 original cast, but I had thoroughly loved the 1993 cast (also directed by Ellis) Still, I think this production for me trumps – it’s this perfect cast that just gets to me. Some peole say that this show is too bright, too happy, but with all the doom and gloom with what is happening in the world today, we need this show to just brighten our day for a little bit. I was so happy to see this that at the curtain call, I openly wept. And just for the record, tears of joy. Fall in love, see this show.