Posts Tagged ‘roundabout theater’

Love is in the Air, Dear Friend

March 31st, 2016 Comments off
Zachary Levi and Laura Benanti in 'She Loves Me.' (Photo: Joan Marcus the The Broadway Blog.)

Zachary Levi and Laura Benanti in ‘She Loves Me.’ (Photo: Joan Marcus the The Broadway Blog.)

She Loves Me was a charming success when it premiered in 1963 starring Barbara Cook and Daniel Massey as star-crossed perfumery clerks who unknowingly fall in love with each other through a series of letters. And while Hello, Dolly! was the big winner at the Tony Awards that year, Jerry Bock, Joe Masteroff, and Sheldon Harnick’s sweet adaptation of the Hungarian play Parfumerie has also stood the test of time.

Scott Ellis directed the Roundabout’s 1993 revival and now, 23 years later, he revisits the piece with a stellar production that will leave you with a gleeful smile. Set designer David Rockwell creates a jewel-toned backdrop for Maraczek’s Parfumerie as well as several other locations loosely set in “a city in Europe” in the 1930s, according to the script. There are fluid references to Art Nouveau (rather than the city’s famous Bauhaus movement) and Jeff Mahshie’s costumes nod to the era while still allowing for musical theater pirouettes and splits.

Gavin Creel and Jane Krakowski in 'She Loves Me.' (Photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Gavin Creel and Jane Krakowski in ‘She Loves Me.’ (Photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

George (Zachary Levi) is the head clerk and when Amalia (Laura Benanti) arrives looking for a job, sparks fly, but not the romantic variety. The pair seem to unnerve each other at every turn, all the while each is corresponding with a potential mate through a Lonely Hearts Club. Oh, what life was like before Tinder and every other swipe-if-you-like-me app! The shop, owned by Mr. Maraczek (Byron Jennings) also employs swarthy Steven Kodaly (Gavin Creel) and his on-again-off-again girlfriend, Ilona (Jane Krakowski). Arpad, the delivery boy (Nicholas Barasch) is hankering for a promotion, while Maraczek suspects that one of his employees is having an affair with his wife.

While not necessarily plot heavy, there are enough sweet-scented wafts to keep things moving along and allow Bock and Harnick’s score to shine as well as a scene-stealing cameo by Peter Bartlett as the headwaiter at a restaurant where Amalia hopes to meet her “Dear, Friend.”

Benanti is tasked with a mezzo-soprano character role that occasionally sounds technique-driven in her upper register, but there’s no denying her delightful attack, which vacillates between endearingly clumsy and softly seductive. Levi, who cut his teeth on Broadway two seasons ago in the short-lived First Date, delivers a long-limbed and endearing performance with whispering echos of Jimmy Stewart, who played the role in the book’s film adaptation, The Shop Around the Corner. Creel and Krakowski are affable sidekicks, the former probably more suited to the lead role and the latter proving why she was a four-time Emmy Award nominee for her hilarious turn in 30 Rock. And the aforementioned splits? That would be Krakowski’s doing.

She Loves Me is an escape to an imaginary jewel-toned time where boy meets girl and love blooms in just a few short seasons. It’s a sweet, reminiscent scent, and befitting the Roundabout’s 50th anniversary season that celebrates its original mission to produce classic plays and musicals.

She Loves Me
Studio 54
254 West 54th Street, NYC
Through June 12

Matthew Wexler is The Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at @roodeloo. 

April Showers: Broadway’s Spring Openings, Part 1

April 10th, 2013 Comments off

It’s Tony time and many of this season’s major productions are raising the curtain (although most shows don’t even utilize a curtain anymore) on what producers hope will be the big hit of the season. We’ve already seen some critically acclaimed shows head to the junkyard. (Hold on to that Playbill from Hands on a Hardbody — it might be worth something someday.) What will be the breakout hit this spring? Here are the contenders and their official openings…

Matilda — opening April 11
Broadway is relying on girl power for ticket sales this season. The Annie revival currently playing at The Palace has been solid but by no means a breakaway hit. This British import is based on Ronald Dahl’s novel about a girl with special powers. Here’s a sneak peek at the production’s journey to Broadway.

Motown — opening April 14
Charting the journey of Motown founder Barry Gordy beginning in 1959, this musical celebration features familiar classics from Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and many more.

There’s plenty more… take the jump!
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TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE: 2012 Fall Preview, The Plays

September 12th, 2012 Comments off

Steppenwolf's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?". Photo by Michael Brosilow.

If the fall season’s crop of musicals is a sparse and eccentrically planted lot, the roster of plays is lush with big ideas, big stars and must-see events (if a few too many “didn’t we just see that” revivals). So let’s dig into the harvest feast…

"Grace". Image via O+M Co.

An Enemy of the People (September 27): Henrik Ibsen’s sturdy study of personal pressure and politics kicks things off just in time for election season. Class acts Boyd Gaines and Richard Thomas play brothers, a mayor and a doctor, on opposite sides of an environmental disaster in the making. (Yeah, this was written when?)

Grace (October 4): As I’ve said before…Paul Rudd. I lerve him. Toss in the always magnetic Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) and my interest is more than peaked for this surreal comedy-drama about a couple’s plans for religious-themed motels and their less than faithful neighbor.

Running on Empty (October 9): Comedian and professional ranter Lewis Black brings his stand-up to Broadway for a week of performances.

Cyrano de Bergerac (October 11): The French war horse (no, not that one) gets trotted out for another display of witty banter, actorly showmanship and much-needed rhinoplasty. Tony-winner Douglas Hodge (La Cage aux Folles) takes on the title role in a Roundabout Theatre revival.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (October 13): The revelatory Steppenwolf production starring playwright (and seriously accomplished actor) Tracy Letts and the incomparable Amy Morton finally makes it to Broadway. Check my review from when I saw it at Arena Stage last year and tell me you aren’t a wee bit excited to see the Albee classic again.

Read more…

Sondheim Reveals New Show, Chita Rivera Returns & More Theater News

March 2nd, 2012 Comments off

Extra! Extra! We’ve got your quick and tasty theater news headlines for the week that was:

  • The First Lady of high kicks Chita Rivera will return to Broadway next season in the first-ever revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the choose-your-own ending Tony winner for Best Musical 1986.
  • Hollywood heat-seekers Justin Long (Going the Distance, Mac commercials) and Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park) will be taking over the lead roles in the hit comedy Seminar beginning April 3.
  • The King of creepy/awesome children’s literature Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) is making it to Broadway as the critically-acclaimed West End adaptation of Matilda The Musical jumps across the pond for a 2013 debut.