If you were to recognise the storyline of She Loves Me then you would be forgiven, the Hungarian play Parfumerie by Miklos Laszlo has taken many guises. Film versions have included The Little Shop around the Corner (1940, James Stewart) In the Good Old Summertime (a 1949 musical version with Judy Garland) and more ‘recently’ (OK – 17yrs ago) You’ve got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
At the Landor Theatre running until the 7th March we are treated to a musical version first produced in 1963 with songs by Fiddler on the Roof team, writer Jerry Bock and music and lyrics Sheldon Hardnick and Joe Masteroff and I am glad to say that going back to basics is a real treat.
After being based in book, music and gift shops, this version takes place in a Perfumery, where the staff are attentive to your every need, they not only sell you goods but they give advice and make shopping a pleasure. The store is owned by Mr Maraczek and run by shop manager Georg Nowack. Georg writes regularly to a lady friend who he has never met and when Mr Maraczek hires a new shop assistant Amalia Balash against Georg’s wishes he has no idea that she is the ‘Dear Friend’ to whom he writes.
Alongside the main storyline there were many subplots involving the other shop assistants, delivery boy Arpad (Joshua LeClair) who longs to be a clerk, Ilona ( Emily Lynne) has been dating Kodaly (Matt Wellman) but is getting increasingly tired of his unreliability and the lovely Sipos (David Herzog) trying to keep the peace. Proprietor Mr Maraczek is played by Ian Dring who hilariously doubles up to play a camp waiter trying to make a romantic atmosphere in a rather seedy restaurant.
Charlotte Jaconelli makes her debut at Amalia Balash, having shot to fame singing classical music on Britain’s Got Talent she proves that she is a fine actress as well although it is when she sings that you sit up and take notice – Musical Theatre world watch out! John Sandberg plays a delightful Georg and is really endearing when the realisation hits him that Amalia maybe the girl for him and he rendition of the title song She Loves Me was superb.
Directed by Robert McWhir, I did enjoy the way She Loves Me was uncomplicated and easy to watch, the intimacy of the Landor Theatre lent itself nicely but personally I would like to see a bigger version on a bigger stage. What stood out for me during the show was the score. Hardnick and Masteroff greatly improved on the 1949 music and I am more than a little surprised I am not more familiar with it.
I found the whole show beautifully nostalgic and next time I visit Boots I shall be rather disappointed if that they don’t greet me in the same way as Maraczeks.
She Loves Me is being performed at the Landor Theatre, Clapham North until 7th March