Yes, there are musicals other than the transcendent “Hamilton” playing on Broadway!
“She Loves Me” is an absolute gorgeous revival of a beautiful, small, romantic Broadway musical that has always deserved more recognition. The roundabout revival is perfect. The combination of a fabulous book/music, a talented director and a phenomenal cast enchants audiences every night at Studio 54.
The things that makes “She Loves Me” so unique are its tone and scope. This is a small, romantic, lyrical musical without a single flashy special effect, big production number, or scantily clad showgirl. It is the Broadway equivalent of watching a classic film on TCM. It is warm, inviting, and absolutely mesmerizing. And the TCM analogy is accurate on a more literal basis. The story has been made into three big budget films: “The Shop Around The Corner,” “In The Good Old Summertime,” and “You’ve Got Mail.”
“She Loves Me” – Brilliant Cast
When Zachary Levi premiered on Broadway in “First Date,” I raved about his performance.So did every other person who saw the show. While that production was not embraced by critics, Zachary Levi blew away audiences with his charisma, acting, and singing voice. Click here to read more about that wonderful show. In “She Loves Me,” Zachary demonstrates he is a Broadway leading man of magnitude. Again, the word charismatic comes to mind. He is handsome, charming, funny, and his singing brings exactly the right nuance to the gorgeous lyrics. Due to the “Hamilton” juggernaut, this is not yet his year to win a Tony award. But given his fabulous performances in his first two Broadway shows, it cannot be long in the coming.
Less surprising – but no less deserved – is the Tony nomination for the glorious Laura Benanti. Broadway lovers have long known that she is an amazing talent. This is her fifth Tony nomination in 15 years! As the smart and strong but very vulnerable heroine, her shimmering soprano is simply magnificent. The casting of “She Loves Me” has been done with great care. Gavin Creel and Jane Krakowski – both tremendous theater talents in their own right – are featured here to great advantage. Jane Krakowski is well known for her sharply honed comic ability and timing, but in her quieter, more introspective moments as a woman who has been seduced and abandoned, she really shines. Her beautiful voice, singing in counterpoint with Benanti in the ethereal “I Don’t Know His Name” is simply unforgettable. Gavin Creel, a man who seems incapable of a bad performance, keeps that streak alive here. He is a smarmy, charming cad, but never takes the performance over the top.
“She Loves Me”: The Best Musical You Don’t Know
Two coworkers in a perfume shop in Hungary are secret pen pals. In person, they don’t like each other. But each of them is a romantic, revealing their true selves through the anonymity of letters. When the time comes for them to meet, each has a touching attack of nerves and each ends up learning much more about themselves in the process of falling in love with reality as opposed to romance. The music is lilting, haunting, and uniquely unforgettable. With music and lyrics from the creator of “Fiddler on the Roof” & “The Apple Tree” and the book by the genius behind “Cabaret,” “She Loves Me” boasts an impressive pedigree. Yet, compared to other shows of its era, relatively few people are very familiar with it. That is a shame. In some ways this is the antithesis of the type of musical so easily lampooned in “Something Rotten.” There are no divas belting songs just before intermission, no intricate, sexy dance numbers, no flashy sets, or special effects. There is just the joy of a warm, charming, witty and emotional musical about love, romance, and self-discovery.
The performance and production were flawless. My only complaint is that the show has such a short, limited run. It has been nominated for more Tony awards than any other musical revival and has only been topped by “Hamilton.” I hope people realize there is more than one gem on Broadway. Don’t miss “She Loves Me!”