SHE LOVES ME, Light Opera Works, at McGaw YMCA Child Care Center Auditorium. This utterly captivating revival of Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock’s 1963 gem–arguably Broadway’s most intelligent, warmhearted musical–gets it all right. Based on Miklos Laszlo’s Parfumerie (which inspired the 1940 film The Shop Around the Corner as well as You’ve Got Mail), it spins the delightful story of Amalia and Georg, lovelorn clerks who despise each other at work but unknowingly forge a mutual fantasy world at night with their love letters. How they find each other is as entrancing as the show’s witty, wistful score (by the creators of Fiddler on the Roof).
Director Ronn Toebaas gives this four-star charmer its due, from an unimprovable six-piece orchestra to committed, richly whimsical performances by seven actors who really are perfect for their parts. Among the clerks Jan Graves delights as love-wary Ilona, David Thome effaces himself as sycophantic Sipos, and James Rank exudes venality as lady-killer Kodaly. John Payonk’s shop owner proves as good as he is grave, and Jason Aron Groh’s delivery boy is hope on a bicycle. But the reluctant lovers are the heart and soul of this production. Jason D. Holland’s wonderfully confused but decent Georg reinvents love, and Susan Bywater Noble is a welcome discovery–her perfectly pitched Amalia is natural, heartbreaking, and effortlessly enticing. That sigh you hear is the entire audience falling in love with her. –Lawrence Bommer