Susan Granger’s review: “I Do, I Do” at the Westport Country Playhouse (2010-2011 season)

By Susan Granger

As Peter De Vries put it, “The bonds of matrimony are like any other bonds – they mature slowly.” And that bittersweet note is reflected by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt in “I Do, I Do,” based on Jan de Hartog’s 1940s play “The Fourposter.”

Beginning with their wedding in 1898, “I Do, I Do” chronicles the joys and pains, trials and tribulations of the marriage between Agnes and Michael for the next 50 years, as they warble gentle, tell-tale songs like “I Love My Wife,” “Together Forever,” “The Honeymoon is Over,” “Nobody’s Perfect,” “Love Isn’t Everything,” “When the Kids Get Married,” “Someone Needs Me” and the poignant standard, “My Cup Runneth Over.”

When this two-character musical opened on Broadway in 1966, it was propelled by the star power of Robert Preston and Mary Martin, producer David Merrick and director Gower Champion. Which explain why this current production, starring Kate Baldwin and Lewis Cleale as the archetypal couple, is more of charming trifle. Yet it still has the same kind of frothy, endearing, light-hearted innocence that’s made Jones and Schmidt’s other musical, “The Fantasticks,” into the longest-running production on the American stage.

Acknowledged by a Tony Award nomination, along with the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle, for her enchanting performance in the recent revival of “Finian’s Rainbow,” Kate Baldwin is sensational, which may explain why Lewis Cleale has a tough time keeping up with her, although his credentials are also impressive. Director Susan H. Schulman keeps the pace lively, centered around the large four-poster bed that occupies center stage on Wilson Chin’s simple, intimate set - with accolades to Devon Painter’s period costumes, Philip Rosenberg’s lighting and Domonic Sack’s sound.

“I Do, I Do” will run at the Westport Country Playhouse through Sept. 4th. For information, go to www.westportplayhouse.org or call 203-227-4177.


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