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Damascus Theatre Company She Loves Me

By • Nov 16th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
She Loves Me
Damascus Theatre Company
Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab, at Olney Theatre Center, Olney, MD
Through November 21st
2:40 with one intermission
$20/$18 Seniors and Students
Reviewed November 13th, 2010

She Loves Me is a musical with book by Joe Masteroff, music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. It is a story of love, deception, heartache, betrayal, and reunion.

Although a wide range of singing talent was onhand to perform, this sweet story had a little bit of everything: comedy, action, and drama. Members of the small, but professional orchestra were not over powering and although the leads were miced the music was mostly well balanced. The ensemble did a commendable job of rounding out the music. Light Designer Rick Swink’s lighting also set the mood well. One other feature that was unique was the audience participation in act two. Not only did it lighten the mood, but some of the members really got into it!

The lead couple, Amalia Balash and Georg Nowack played by Stephanie Bonte-Lebair and Bill Brown were not only comfortable together, but their voices blended smoothly. They each had emotions that ranged from anger (mostly Brown) to utter confusion and bewilderment (again mostly Brown)!. Lebair’s emotions were much more determined yet allowed for the romantic side to show itself on occasion.

Steven Kodaly, played by Gabriel Potter, was a real smooth talker and a lady’s man; you wanted to smack him more than kiss him. (He seemed content either way). Although Kodaly did not posses a big voice, it was solid. Another actress who may not have had a great voice, but made up for it with her cheery attitude and love of the romantic was Ilona Ritter played by Annette Kalicki. Kalicki was a young innocent even though she, too, was a bit of a flirt, she was young and very sincere in her quest for romance. When she thought she had found it she was on cloud nine. When the spell was broken, she fell, but quickly rebounded and moved on.

Probably the best vibrato was sung by the shop owner, Mr. Maraczek played by Gary Carl Fackenthall. His voice was strong and carried a meaningful quality to it that was emotional as well as easily heard. His interaction with his staff, both male and female was honest and down to earth. Yet he carried himself with an authority that made you say, “Yes Mr. Maraczek.” Zach Harris was effective as the friendly delivery boy Arpad Laszlo. And Jason Damaso’s snarky Waiter showed a lot of similarity to Cabaret‘s Master of Ceremonies.

Set Designer Bill Brown’s creative set allowed the cast to share space inside Maraczek’s Parfumerie and the sidewalk outside it. The entire back wall of the initial scene rolled open to reveal the inside of the shop, with tables of soap, cold cream, perfume and other delights. Set dressing and properties were handled smoothly and made the transitions look smooth and effortless.

She Loves Me was a sweet love story with a happy ending, of course.

Director’s Notes

I grew up with She Loves Me. Broadway musicals made up a large proportion of the wide variety of records my mother kept playing (loudly) in the house. She Loves Me was on more than its share of the time. Mom loved SLM’s music, as do I (even more now). Generally lighthearted, lush harmonies, melodies ranging from almost Gilbert and Sullivan patter to the most lyrical, a dash of Hungarian, clever but not attention-stealing virtuoso lyrics-it’s a great score.

But that’s just the music. The story itself is a gentle journey into the small, delicate, and the personal that never allows itself even a testing dip into the murky lake of hyper, gooey romanticism (unlike this sentence.) It’s not Les Miz, it’s not King Lear or A Doll’s house, doesn’t deal with matters of life and death (much) and there is not a whiff of politics to be found. Its universality is found in a smaller, less obtrusive sphere.

She Loves Me is about looking for love. That’s it. Very universal indeed. Even those of us lucky enough to have found the big “L” remember what looking is about.

Against a backdrop of mean economic reality, people losing jobs, looking and not finding ones, others fighting tooth and nail to hold on to the ones they have, the curious but regular people of Maraczek’s Parfumerie look for love. The overall journey for some is from fantasy versions to the real and substantial. There is also loss accompanied by the resolve to start again.

Many have written that She Loves Me is among the best of American musicals. Some say, along with The Fantasticks, it’s one of the two “perfect” musicals. The music is astoundingly good in an unpretentious way. Coupled with its focus on us regular folks, our common need, a permeating romantic (not maudlin) atmosphere, based on a great, oft reincarnated (The Shop Around the Corner, You’ve Got Mail and others) 1937 play by Miklos Laszlo, it is safe to say that while productions may succeed or fail, She Loves Me itself is a piece of literature that will be around long after bigger, splashier works run their course.

On another not, I would like to thank DTC and this outstanding cast, crew and young musicians for their creativity and enormous efforts on this project so dear to my heart. Thanks to you all.

Phil Hosford

Photo Gallery

Maraczek's Parfumerie:  Annette Kalicki, Stephanie Bonte-Lebair, Rachel Hickson, Micky Goldstein, Bill Brown, Gary Carl Fackenthall Maraczek's Parfumerie -  Rear:Stephanie Bonte-Lebair, Annette Kalicki, Micky Goldstein, and front: Bill Brown, Gary Carl Fackenthall, Zach Harris
Maraczek’s Parfumerie: Annette Kalicki, Stephanie Bonte-Lebair, Rachel Hickson, Micky Goldstein, Bill Brown, Gary Carl Fackenthall
Maraczek’s Parfumerie – Rear:Stephanie Bonte-Lebair, Annette Kalicki, Micky Goldstein, and front: Bill Brown, Gary Carl Fackenthall, Zach Harris
Bill Brown and Stephanie Bonte-Lebair portray the lead roles of Georg and Amalia in She Loves Me.
Bill Brown and Stephanie Bonte-Lebair portray the lead roles of Georg and Amalia in She Loves Me.

Photos by Elli Swink.

Cast

  • Amalias Balash: Stephanie Bonte-Lebair
  • Georg Nowack: Bill Brown
  • Ladislav Sipos: Micky Goldstein
  • Ilona Ritter: Annette Kalicki
  • Arpad Laszlo: Zach Harris
  • Mr. Maraczek: Gary Carl Fackenthall
  • Steven Kodaly: Gabriel Potter
  • Mr. Keller: Bruce Rosenberg
  • Waiter: Jason Damaso
  • Ensemble: Jason Damaso, Julie Farina, Rachel Hickson, Bill Lebair, Carrie McCabe, Bruce Rosenberg, Luci Samp, Anne Toffey

Hungarian Youth Quartet

  • Assistant Music director, Piano: Ruth Bright
  • Piano: Janet An
  • Violin: Joyce Yang
  • Percussion: Tim Glenshaw

Production Team

  • Direction/Music Direction/Choreography: Phil Hosford
  • Assistant Director: Anne Toffey
  • Producer: Carol Boyle
  • Assistant Music Director: Ruth Bright
  • Technical Director/Lighting Design: Rick Swink
  • Master Carpenter: Bill Lebair
  • Sound Design: Vitol Wiacek
  • Costumes: Flo Arnold
  • Properties: Margie Henry
  • Set Dressing: Nancy Eynon Lark
  • Set Design: Bill Brown
  • Mural Artist/Set Painting: Judy Jandora
  • Stage Manager: Cathy Clark
  • Hair: Valerie Bogley
  • Set construction & Painting Crew: Elissa Borzilleri, Bruce & Cathy Clark, Judy Feola, Dennis Hawkins, Jim Korte, Stephen Lebair, Richard Ridge, Bill Rippey, Vitol Wiacek
  • Program: Elli Swink
  • PR: Elissa Borzilleri & Celia Blitzer

Disclaimer: Damascus Theatre Company provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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