In an internet age consumed by social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Match.com, the idea of two lonely hearts connecting as anonymous pen pals may seem quaint. The Penny Seats theatre company aims to correct that assumption with their summer production of the award-winning musical classic "She Loves Me," opening tonight, July 26 at Ann Arbor's West Park Band Shell.
"'She Loves Me' is about real people, with real flaws and real problems. It's clever and sort of cynical in places, but yet, it has this incredible romantic hopefulness. Audiences will be drawn to the humor and the edginess…but will then hope, in spite of themselves, for the fairy tale ending," observes returning director Jacqui Robbins. Robbins, The Penny Seats board secretary, adds, "With so many people making internet friends they have yet to meet in daily life and with online dating, there is a revival of this idea that the perfect person is out there if only you write the right letter. That makes this show timely again."
In this classic musical by a trio of Broadway's best-known creators (Sheldon Harnick, Jerry Bock, and Joe Masteroff), two workplace rivals spend their days bickering and their nights falling in love as secret pen pals, while their quirky coworkers deal with a spate of other problems. The show has enjoyed a well-deserved resurgence in recent years.
The show is based on the play "Parfumerie," by Miklos Laszlo, which was also adapted cinematically three times: "The Shop Around the Corner" with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, "In the Good Old Summertime" with Judy Garland and Van Johnson, and "You've Got Mail" with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
"She Loves Me" premiered on Broadway in 1963, and subsequently had productions in the West End in 1964 and award-winning revivals on each side of the Atlantic in the 1990s, as well as regional productions. Jack Cassidy won a best supporting actor Tony for the original, Hal Prince-directed production. Boyd Gaines won a best actor Tony for the 90s revival.
This summer's production will mark The Penny Seats second foray in West Park, after last summer's well-received debut there. Rachel Murphy served as stage manager last year and will be producing this summer. The Penny Seats will partner with What's Cooking again this year to offer picnic dinners for pre-order.
SHOW DATES: Performances will be at the West Park Band Shell tonight, July 26-July 28, August 2-4, and August 9-11, all at 7:00pm.
LOCATION: The West Park Band Shell at Ann Arbor's West Park, between Miller and West Huron
TICKETS: Tickets are $10 (age 12 and younger admitted for $7) online and at the gate. For more information, visit pennyseats.org or call 734-276-2832.
CAST: Ellington Berg, Matt Cameron, Jenny Fernandez, John Henderson, Ellen Butler Lawson, Lauren London, Drex Morton, Laura Sagolla, Russ Schwartz, Roy Sexton, Cathy Skutch and Brent Stansfield.
CREW: Bridget Bly (Costumes), Victoria Gilbert (Choreography), Steve Hankes (Set Construction), Barbara Kramer (Assistant Producer), Zach London (Sound), Rachel Murphy (Producer), Sean Murphy (Set Design), Nick Oliverio (Stage Manager), Jacqui Robbins (Director, Producer) and Chris Whittaker (Music Director).
ABOUT THE PENNY SEATS: Founded in 2010, the company includes performers and players, minimalists and penny-pinchers. Penny Seats thinks theatre should be fun and stirring, not stuffy or repetitive. They believe going to a show should not break the bank. And they find Michigan summer evenings beautiful. Thus, they produce dramas and comedies, musicals and original adaptations, classics and works by up-and-coming playwrights. They also provide cabaret shows, acting classes, and wacky improv evenings. And you can see any of their shows for the same price as a movie ticket.