Falmouth Theatre Guild’s fall production of “She Loves Me,” an adaptation of an earlier play by Miklos Laslos, “Parfumerie,” is like a warm coat on a chilly night. It bolsters the spirit and body.
The show is directed by Tim Hystad and features an ensemble of talented Cape thespians. The play’s book is by Joe Masterof, with music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick.
My first reaction was to the set. It’s really beautiful, designed well and, with costumes and makeup, they play as much a role as the actors. Kudos to scenic designer Cris Reverdy as well as the tech crew, who helped with construction and painting. Praise also to Liz Moakley for her costumes. They give us the feeling of Budapest in the mid-1930s.
The orchestra, under the direction of Korey Charles, did well; there were a few times when it seemed out of tune, but that was not for long. I loved the Mittel European violin solo.
Leads Sara Sneed as Amalia Balash and Rob Minshall as Georg Nowak are clerks at Maraczek’s, a cosmetics and perfume store in Budapest. Both Sara and Rob are seasoned performers and get their characters across to the audience. This is a musical with some challenging songs. The night we went, I felt that Sara’s vocal talents shone. She is a trained coloratura. The songs are more like modern opera rather than Broadway. Rob Minshall’s voice wasn’t quite as adept as hers at first, but got better as the play went on. He was quite convincing as Georg, who writes love letters to Ms. Balash without having met her. When he sings the play’s signature song, he nails it.
Ms. Sneed plays the energetic, ambitious young clerk who is longing for someone she has met only on paper. Both Ms. Sneed and Mr. Minshall have some athletic moments; they accomplish them well. Their voices blend well together, too. They make a fine pair.
Director Hystad said that he gave all of the principal actors a place to shine. It was not an idle statement.
As counterpoint to the earnestness of young love is the relationship between Ilona Ritter, played by Laura Shea, and Steven Kodaly, played by Alex Valentine. They, too, are clerks at the store. Laura Shea gets to sing some of the less-operatic pieces, especially in a duet with Sara Sneed in the first act and about her “Optometrist Paul” in the second act. Her voice is more Broadway and she is able to meld her acting and voice to great effect.
There is one moment in the play when Ilona is furious and the red lighting broadcast those feelings. It is a nice touch. The lighting was done deftly throughout.
Alex Valentine got to shine, too. His dance routines with Ms. Shea and alone are quite effective, in character, and add to his role.
As I said above, each principal shone. Joey LaValle as Ladislav Sipos, another store clerk and Mr. Nowak’s point man, gives a solid performance and Arpad Laszlo, played by Terrence Rex Moos, is endearing. Mr. Moos gets across his role as a delivery boy who has ambitions to be more.
And I have to mention R. Michael Wresinski as Mr. Maraczek. He got the right amount of gravitas and orneriness of the store owner.
I also have to mention two minor cameos: John Weltman as the waiter and Gil Rapoza as an aging busboy at the Cafe. They added a bit of broad comedy to their roles. Mr. Rapoza channeled a bit of Buster Keaton for me.
And the rest of the performers were wonderful. They flowed in and out.
And part of that flowing involved choreography by Sarah Garceau. She was able to create routines that showed off the cast’s abilities and fit into the flow of the play.
One last note about the vocal direction by Nancy Sparklin. There was a nice bit of harmony by the store clerks as each customer or crowd of patrons left the store. Not only was this well done, but it reminded me of the “Lida Rose” bit in “The Music Man.” It came to be expected, but brought a bit of levity with it.
There was one unscripted performance. A bat, drawn to the stage lights, made a cameo appearance. The cast did not bat an eye (sorry..) and took it in stride.
In all, the guild provides with this production balm for the spirit and primes it for the holiday season to come. Thank you. It was a lovely night out.
The show is at Highfield Theatre, 58 Highfield Drive, through November 24; it plays at 7:30 PM on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 PM on Sundays.
Tickets are available at www.FalmouthTheatreGuild.org; or call 866-811-4111. Prices are $23 for adults, $21 for seniors (62 and older) and $19 for those younger than 19.
Happy holidays to all.