Honestly and Wonderfully: “She Loves Me”

The cast of “She Loves Me.” Photo by Maggie Hall.

Presented by Greater Boston Stage Company
Book Written by Joe Masteroff
Music Originally by Jerry Bock
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Directed by Ilyse Robbins
Music directed by Matthew Stern

November 24th through December 23rd, 2017
Greater Boston Stage Company on Facebook
395 Main St, Stoneham, Massachusetts 02180

Review with Bishop C. Knight

(Stoneham, Massachusetts) An adaptation of the 1937 play Parfumerie by Hungarian playwright Miklós László, She Loves Me is set in a perfume shop where the entire staff pauses to sing in unison “Pleeeease doooo call again” to every departing customer.  In a broad sense, this is one of those comedies defined by the positive space of its set; meaning that the characters’ workspace and workspace culture were as much part of the musical as the characters’ dialogue and songs.  She Loves Me is evocative of other comedies reliant on their sets, like Cheers and Seinfeld which respectively wouldn’t be what they are without Sammy’s Boston bar and Jerry’s apartment building.

I attended a performance on a Monday night at the end of November 2017 and, honestly, most of the actors seemed a bit sleepy during Act One.  However, something seemed to happen during intermission, because the cast re-emerged for Act Two with their vocal cords on fire.  Most noteworthy, “Where’s My Shoe?” was a duet shared by the two lead characters Amalia (Jennifer Ellis) and George (Sam Simahk) with such a bright and flirty romantic spark that the audience could no longer question that these lovebirds were destined to end up together and then live happily ever after.

The young actor Brendan Callahan provided a standout performance as Arpad Laszlo. She Loves Me is a play for the older audience member who remembers the 1930s and 1940s, or a younger audience member like myself who excessively indulges in nostalgia. The youthful presence Callahan’s shopboy character was sprightly glitter to a storyline about jaded adults looking for love. He was refreshing from the first minute of the play until the last second.  One of Callahan’s exceptional moments was his rendition of the song “Try Me,” which he sang in the range of an innocent and gleeful boy soprano. This was Callahan’s debut at Greater Boston Stage Company, but hopefully he is in more of their shows. 

Another reason I enjoyed this play was its wholesomeness. Cooperation and trust were two morals of this story. There wasn’t a more festive expression of these ethics than the the cast crooning the Christmas carol “Twelve Days to Christmas.”  The actors energetically waltzed around the stage, while singing about shopping and gift-giving and, like in a reverie of jubilation, inspired audience member were laughing and clapping.  At one point during this scene, Brendan Callahan wished aloud “What I would really like more than anything is a motorcycle!” and my ears pricked up like the Grinch and I thought, “WHAT?  I don’t hear adults dare to wish with that type of urgency!”  Or rather, the older I get, even at Christmastime I never wish for anything with the trust and hope that it will come true…  So yeah, there was a wholesomeness to this Christmas play that is intended for hearts which need to grow three sizes larger.

I recommend Robbin’s She Loves Me as a holiday present for your family.  All ages will get something uplifting from this production.  It’s on stage in Stoneham for the rest of December.  I sincerely hope you go. For Christmas!  To you!


Queen’s Note:
We elected a thin-skinned Nazi to the office of the President who is turning our “democracy” into a fascist, totalitarian oligarchy dominated by the 1%. Trump is a monster. His policies, when he names them, are destructive. His narcissistic behavior is more so.

Congressional “negotiators” released a spending bill that saves the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for Humanities, and National Public Radio until September at which time, the President and his impotent cronies may still cut arts funding. It is ever important to remain vigilant. And, for the love of all that’s sacred, keep creating. If you need help, ask for it. Our existence is our resistance. May the force be with you. – KD

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