VILLANOVA, PA – Villanova Theatre is proud to present the timeless musical comedy She Loves Me, written by Joe Masteroff (Cabaret) with lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and music by Jerry Bock (Fiddler on the Roof). Directed by Barrymore Award winner and Philadelphia favorite Matthew Decker, this Golden Age musical stands the test of time with its clever plotline and witty, melodic score. Hailed as “a heartwarming holiday romance,” She Loves Me promises to bring out the hopeless romantic in all of us at a time where we could all use a little more love in our lives (Mail Tribune).
Set in an elegant Budapest parfumerie, She Loves Me follows two combative clerks, Amalia and Georg, who are constantly butting heads on the job. Little do they know, they’ve actually been courting one another by mail for months after responding to a “lonely hearts” advertisement in the newspaper. These unwitting pen pals become the most unlikely of lovebirds in a delightful musical that has charmed audiences for decades.
The story, based on the play Parfumerie by Miklos Laszlo, also served as the inspiration for films like the classic The Shop Around the Corner, and more recently, the Hollywood blockbuster You’ve Got Mail starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Considered by many to be the most charming musical ever written, She Loves Me is an enchanting romantic comedy with an endearing innocence and a touch of Old-World elegance. She Loves Me was nominated for five Tony Awards in 1964 including Best Musical, was revived to great acclaim in 1993, and in 2016, became the first Broadway show to be live-streamed.
Bock and Harnick’s score features iconic songs such as “Vanilla Ice Cream,” “She Loves Me,” and the hilarious “A Trip to the Library,” while Masteroff’s clever book provides plenty of witty banter, strong characters, and sparkling theatrical moments. Inspired by the 1930s setting and changing trends in courtship and dating, the Villanova Theatre creative team has focused its research on feminism, Golden Age Musicals, and the ever-shifting topography of romantic relationships. “Regardless of whether we’re writing to anonymous pen pals, worrying about what to wear on a first date, or swiping right on Tinder, we’re all flying blind when it comes to love,” says director Matthew Decker. “That’s what makes this story so compelling and so authentically human.”
Decker is a three-time Barrymore Award-winning director whose work has been seen on stages across the region, including Theatre Horizon, Arden Theatre Company, 11th Hour Theatre Company, and the University of the Arts. He serves as the Co-Founder/ Resident Director at Theatre Horizon, where recent musical credits include A New Brain, Into the Woods, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. For eight seasons, Decker also served as the Associate Artistic Director at Arden Theatre Company, where he directed their “triumphant” production of Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret, hailed by WHYY as “so flawlessly reinterpreted and performed, it was something new.” She Loves Me marks the first time Villanova audiences will experience Decker’s fresh, unique perspective. He is joined by longtime collaborator Peter A. Hilliard as Music Director, a staple behind the keys for Villanova’s musicals, and the multitalented Choreographer Rachel Camp.
Set Designer Colin McIlvain’s concept showcases the Art Nouveau style of the 1930s while highlighting the dual lives of the letter-writing lovers with a revolving turntable that reveals new locations as the delightful plot pivots. Costume Designer Alison Roberts lends her masterful skill to reflect the upscale fashion of 1930s Budapest as well as making subtle connections between characters through romantic color schemes and traditional work attire for the period. Resident Lighting Designer Jerold R. Forsyth works to create the various worlds of the play, from glittering parfumerie to elegant restaurant to cozy bedroom, while Sound Designer John Stovicek blends the symphonic score and glorious vocals into one harmonious composition.
The cast is led by second-year acting scholar Mina Kawahara (Amalia Balash), first-year set assistant Ethan Mitchell (Georg Nowack), first-year acting scholar Jerald Bennett (Steven Kodaly) and second-year graduate student Tina Lynch (Ilona Ritter). They are joined by local actors Paul Weagraff (Mr. Maraczek) and Alex Werthauer (Arpad Laszlo), as well as by first-year set assistant Gabe Henninger (Sipos). The lively ensemble features Villanova graduate and undergraduate students as well as familiar alumni.
She Loves Me runs at Villanova Theatre in Vasey Hall from November 6-18, 2018. Speaker’s Night, immediately following the performance on Thursday, November 15, will feature a Q&A talkback with director Matthew Decker, dramaturg Magdalena Schutzler, and Music Director Peter A. Hilliard.
Vasey Hall is located on Villanova’s main campus at the intersection of Lancaster & Ithan Avenues. Performances will be held Tuesdays - Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm. Tickets run $21-$25 with discounts available for seniors, students, MA in Theatre alumni, and groups. Tickets may be purchased at the Villanova Theatre Box Office (M-S, 12-5 pm) in person, by phone: (610) 519-7474, or online at www.villanovatheatre.org.