She Loves Me is a musical romantic comedy that takes place in a fragrance shop in Budapest, which is an adaptation of the 1937 play Parfumerie by Hungarian playwright Miklós László.
The Maraczek’s Parfumerie shop employees arrive every morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, singing Good Morning, Good Day. They set up shop and then eagerly try to sell various products. The employees include Sipos (Aaron Gooden), a middle-aged salesman; the young delivery boy Arpad (Brandon Walters); Ilona (Shannon Rakow), Kodaly (James Conrad Smith); Georg (Tommy MacDonell), who’s a bit timid; and Amalia (Amy Weintraub) who was recently hired. Mr. Maraczek (Patrick James) owns the shop.
Georg has been writing to an anonymous female penpal and he shares one of the romantic letters with Sipos. Maraczek thinks Georg should get married. Meanwhile, Arpad is stocking the shelves with a new product, a musical cigarette box that Maraczek just brought in and believes will sell. Amalia walks in looking for a job and Georg tells her they’re not hiring. She takes one of the cigarette boxes and sells it to a customer, which impresses Maraczek and he hires her on the spot.
Tensions grow between Ilona and Kodaly and Amalia and Georg, Arpad wants to move up to sales, and Maraczek hires a private detective. There are some misunderstandings, and many comic twists and turns.
The comedy is really spot on and worth watching just to witness the brilliant delivery that leads to many laugh out loud moments. Add the strong acting, chemistry between the actors, and voices that soar, Amy Weintraub, James Conrad Smith, and Brandon Walters were standouts for me, and you have the recipe for a great production.
She Loves Me was nominated for five Tony Awards in 1964, so it starts out with great bones. This touching musical is not only based on the rom-com book by Joe Masteroff, who wrote Cabaret, but also include the songs by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick of Fiddler on the Roof fame. Director David Kellett coats this touching romantic comedy with its original nostalgic innocence and early 20th century charm. The intimate staging gives the audience a clearer view of the characters, both literally and figuratively.
Fun fact: She Loves Me has spurred the movies The Shop Around the Corner (1940) featuring James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan and You’ve Got Mail (1998) with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
What I like about this production is it stays true to the original production, yet is still relatable. Amy Weintraub (Amalia) is a powerhouse and was well chosen for the role. The cast made me laugh throughout the show. because they were really funny, and the Good Morning, Good Day song become an earworm (you’ll see). I have fallen for She Loves Me.
She Love Me is playing at The Matthews Acting Studio located at 185 Nassau Street in Princeton. The program runs for two and a half hours with one intermission. You may park in the adjacent Princeton University Faculty Lot 10 on William Street (behind Thomas Sweet) after 5 PM. Enter the building from Lot 10.
- June 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, and 29 at 8 PM
- June 9, 16, 23, an 30 at 4 PM
For ticket information, handled by McCarter Theatre, and a complete listing of events in the Princeton Festival, visit www.princetonfestival.org. To purchase tickets by phone, call McCarter Theatre at 609-258-2787.