There is a feeling of tightness and comraderie with the cast of “She Loves Me” at the SCERA. I have no idea what actually went on behind the scenes, but on stage, it looks like a close-knit group of performers doing a show they love.
That atmosphere can an endear an audience to a show, and compensate for a multitude of sins. Not that this production, directed by Jerry Elison, has a lot of sins to compensate for, but whatever complaints you might have — the botched sound cues that plagued opening night, the occasional sluggish pace in the dialogue scenes, the lead actor’s name being left off the program, and so on — you disregard them because everything is just so darn fun.
It’s as charming a show as you could want, with a plot that is familiar to modern audiences from the film “You’ve Got Mail.” (Both trace their roots to the same play.) This production has been moved from Hungary in the ’30s to New York City in the ’00s, which makes the “You’ve Got Mail” connection even stronger.
At Maraczek’s Parfumerie is Georg Nowack (John Preator), head salesman and a conscientious, if frequently exasperated, employee. He is at odds with the new saleswoman, the youthful Amalia Balash (Kapri Monet Merrill), which naturally means they will fall in love.
The twist is, they already have fallen in love, without realizing it, through anonymous letters. Months ago, she responded to his personals ad, and they’ve been corresponding ever since — unaware that in everyday life, they already know and despise each other.
There are subplots among the other employees at the shop, most centering around love and its accompanying aches and pains. The sleazy Steven Kodaly (Kevin Goertzen) and his sometime girlfriend Ilona (Kirbi Mason) have an amusingly choreographed number together, and Ilona shines on her own in her “Trip to the Library” song. Both Goertzen and Mason know how to sell a song, that’s for sure.
Clayton Vance and Derek Cullimore very earnestly and enthusiastically play Sipos and Arpad, two shop employees who add color to the proceedings. Spencer Hall gets only one scene and one song as a snooty waiter, but it’s a good one.
Kapri Monet Merrill is sympathetic (not to mention gorgeous) as Amalia, a headstrong but unconfident working woman. She and John Preator, as Georg, are a lovely couple, and Preator carries the show well. He is particularly good when singing the exuberant title song.
Musical direction is by Marcie Jacobsen, with choreography by Erin Wilson. The skewed set, designed by Eric Fielding, was bought after BYU’s production (what, they had a yard sale?) and perfectly matches the show’s whimsical outlook.
Should you go? Yes! It’s lighthearted, happy stuff.
People used to call this an "overlooked" show, with songs by the same duo who later wrote "Fiddler on the Roof." Then everyone started doing it, including BYU just three months before SCERA. I think we can stop calling it "overlooked" now.