Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 6, 2008

She Loves Me

Williamstown Theatre, Williamstown
through July 12, 2008
By Jarice Hanson

In his first season as Williamstown’s new Artistic Director Nicholas Martin has brilliantly staged what some have called “the most perfect musical.” "She Loves Me" has a familiar “boy meets girl” plot, but with music (by Jerry Bock) and lyrics (by Sheldon Harnick) that are witty, joyous, and intelligent.

The book (by Joe Masteroff) sets the story in a Budapest perfumery in 1934 where clerks are kept in line by the store’s patrician owner, Mr. Maraczek (Dick Latessa). When lovely Amalia Balash (Kate Baldwin) is hired, she and senior clerk, Georg Nowack (Brooks Ashmanskas) are simultaneously attracted to each other, even though their personalities mix like oil and water. Little do they know that they have been corresponding in the persona of “Dear Friend.” If this sounds like the 1998 film, “You’ve Got Mail,” or the 1940 film, “The Shop Around the Corner,” you’re right.

Ashmanskas’ Georg is everyman—he’s not a drop-dead leading man (that’s left to Troy Britton Johnson as the cad, Steven Kodaly), but his charm and sincerity, along with exceptional comic timing, makes him a lovable teddy bear. Kate Baldwin is well matched as the sometimes ditzy Amalia, with a voice that ranges from music hall to operatic with such control, some audience members actually gasped with delight.

Under Nick Martin’s flawless direction, every cast member gets their moment to shine—including ensemble actors who have no lines. The generous spirit of director and cast makes the audience feel privileged to participate in this energetic romp. As a musical “She Loves Me” does what a musical should—it gives the audience joy, a little song for our hearts, and it puts a smile on faces. If a lover of musicals—don’t miss it.