I Do! I Do!
Westport Country Playhouse
ROSALIND FRIEDMAN

At the Westport Country Playhouse, the closing date for the intimate and very personal production of   Do! I Do! has been extended from August 28 to September 4th. There are two reasons for this: One- the lovely soprano Kate Baldwin, who earlier this year was TONY, Outer Critics, and Drama Desk nominated for her starring role in Finian’s Rainbow; two- Lewis Cleale, who has a very pleasant voice and displays a good sense of timing. They are well-matched and hard-working here under the superb direction of Susan H. Schulman.   

This two-character musical, written by the same pair-Tom Jones (Book and Lyrics) and Harvey Schmidt (Music)—who wrote The Fantasticks and 110 in the Shade -- harkens back to a time when couples stayed married “‘till death do they part,” no matter what the problems encountered along the way. On a set designed by Wilson Chin, highlighted by a large four-poster bed, lit by Phillip Rosenberg, we meet Agnes and Michael on their wedding day and night in 1898.  Actually we see the actors getting ready on each side of the stage for the play to begin—which was a pretty cool bit.  Then, we follow them through their fifty years of living, getting pregnant and having children, a boy and a girl.  We eavesdrop on a tough scene when after professing his love for his wife, Michael, a 40 year old romance novelist, admits having an affair with someone who appreciates his writing ability more than Agnes.

After a heartfelt apology, their marriage continues with celebrations of their children’s weddings and finally a move to a smaller place. The musical is based on Jan Hartog’s 1940’s play, The Fourposter, the smallest musical to ever take a Broadway stage.  In 1951, it starred the great couple, Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn. In 1966, this musical directed and choreographed by Gower Champion, featured Mary Martin and Robert Preston. There is also a film of the play with Rex Harrison and Lili Palmer. All the names I have just mentioned possessed staggering talent.    

Michael Lichtefeld is the Choreographer in this production and Devon Painter’s exceptional costumes that trace the history of the periods should be noted. The weakest element in I Do! I Do! is the musical score, which consists of 20 innocuous songs that simply tell the story. Only “My Cup Runneth Over” became a hit.  However, I do love the two piano accompaniment played by Alexander Boroson and Joel Fram, Music Director.

I Do , I Do! at the Westport Country Playhouse through September 4th-      



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