SHE LOVES ME” WINNING HEARTS NIGHTLY IN WESTPORT


BONNIE GOLDBERG

If you were a fan of the quirky romantic comedy “You’ve Got Mail,” starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, then you’re half way home to falling in love with the play that inspired it, “She Loves Me.”  With book by Joe Masteroff, music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, “She Loves Me” was in turn based on a 1937 Hungarian play “Parfumerie” by Miklos Laszlo.

 History lesson aside, “She Loves Me” is an old-fashioned Valentine, a bonbon to love, a parfait of peachy delight, that will be spreading joy over the Westport Country Playhouse until Saturday, May 15.

 Forget your e-mails, text messages, twitters and Face Book accounts and harken back to an era when people actually communicated by writing letters, by hand no less, maybe even with a fountain pen.

 The beautiful set festooned with cherubs by Riccardo Hernandez is Maraczek’s Parfumerie where customers are creamed and polished to perfection with impeccable service.  There Georg Nowack (Jeremy Peter Johnson) and Amalia Balash (Jessica Grove) spar on a regular basis, both sales clerks, not knowing that they are secret correspondents, “dear friends in letters,” as members of a Lonely Hearts Club.

 The lyrical music swirls throughout the evening, highlighting each encounter at the parfume shop, with such memorable tunes as “She Loves Me,” “Vanilla Ice Cream,” “Twelve Days to Christmas” and “Dear Friend.”  Rounding out the cast are the shop’s genial owner (Lenny Wolpe) and the loyal and not-so-loyal staff (Nancy Anderson, Michael McCormick, Christopher Shin and Douglas Sills).  David Bonanno does a wonderful version of a starchy headwaiter at the Café Imperial whereaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa the secret pen pals are slated to finally meet.  Mark Lamos directs this pastiche of pleasure with aplomb.

For tickets ($35-55), call the Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport at 203-227-4177 or online at www.WestportPlayhouse.org.  Performances are Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Be charmed and enchanted as Georg and Amalia discover love among the bottles of fragrances, creams and lotions at Maraczek’s as Westport Country Playhouse celebrates its eightieth season of fine theater.

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