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Sarah Crown
Theatre Correspondent
10:49 PM 18th December 2021
arts

She Loves Me – A Gentle Musical Comedy for Christmas

David Thaxton and Alex Young - photo Johan Persson
David Thaxton and Alex Young - photo Johan Persson
I’ve never eaten a Hungarian pastry but am sure they cannot possibly be as sweet and light as ‘She Loves Me’, the musical comedy originally based on Miklos Laszlo’s 1937 play, Parfumerie.

The play has already inspired a couple of Hollywood films, ‘The Shop around the Corner’ (James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan) and ‘You’ve Got Mail’ (Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan) but in 1963, writer Joe Masteroff along with the composer and lyricist duo Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick took the piece and created ‘She Loves Me’.

Set between the wars in a well-respected Parfumerie, the story revolves around two shop clerks who work together in the Parfumerie, each disliking the other on sight, but unbeknown to each other have become pen pals and are developing a relationship through their letters.

David Thaxton taking the role of Georg was excellent and well matched by Alex Young playing Amalia Balash. Of especial note is their first face to face meeting arranged via their letters, in a café, which is unsurprisingly a disaster as with some horror they each discover the identity of the other. A wide range of emotions are displayed, from nervousness, to surprise and then to anger, but there are some brilliant one liners in and amongst as Georg snaps ‘At last, we’ve got something in common, at one time we were both infants” “But I grew up” Amalia retorts.

Alex Young - photo Johan Persson
Alex Young - photo Johan Persson
The scene is also the setting for Adele Anderson’s solo, who as the Maîtress D’ strives to create ‘A Romantic Atmosphere’, a la Marlene Dietrich, amongst the swirl of high emotions. (For me, one of the shows highlights).

Everyone who works in the Parfumerie has a story to tell and each in turn become the focus of the audience’s attention. The show kicks off with ensemble pieces and it is only gradually that the individual characters emerge.

Another clerk, Kodaly played by Andy Coxon is occasionally romancing his colleague, Ilona, played by Kaisa Hammarlund, whilst their unhappily married boss, Mr Maraczek (Karl Seth) is simply trying to hold himself and the shop together. Ladislav Sipos (Marc Elliott) is simply trying to provide for his wife and family.

The final section of She Loves Me is set in the "12 Days to Christmas" which makes it perfect seasonal fare.
The songs move the narrative along nicely although at times contradicting the dialogue which only adds to growing realisation of the characters true feelings towards each other.

The scenery design, lighting and choreography were all very well executed and all required impeccable timing if disaster was to be averted. Similarly, the band seated above the stage area, were well balanced with the vocalists as every word could be clearly heard.

She Loves Me is a gentle musical with some great foot tapping songs, a witty script and a view of romance that is always warm but never overly sentimental.
There nothing here that you won’t enjoy and I’m sure you will emerge from the show with a seasonal feeling goodwill to all men.

Crucible Theatre
Until 15th January 2022