By Bob Evans
From out of the past, the almost forgotten Broadway musical, “She Loves Me,” finds new traction and new audiences with its charming story of mis-matched lonely-hearts seeking their true love.
“She Loves Me” comes from a play, “The Shop Around the Corner” that was adapted for film to star Margaret Sullivan and James Stewart in 1940. Later, the story was re-crafted into a musical film starring Judy Garland and Van Johnson, In the Good Old Summertime, as the parfumerie was swapped to a music store. From that came the Broadway musical, “She Loves Me.” But, that’s not the last viewing of the successful story. It became the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan comedy, You’ve Got Mail. The story also reminds of the Doris Day/Rock Hudson sex comedies like Pillow Talk.
The Barn Players opened the 1963 musical, that amassed about 300 performances in its initial Broadway run, on Friday, April 21, to a sold-out audience. The Barn’s production, directed by Kipp Simmons configured the auditorium in the round (actually, a square) and gave the musical comedy a novel look and feel for Barn attendees.
The “ in the round” format made some of the audio difficult to hear as some voices seemed to overpower other voices and some lyrics were lost. Also, some of the humorous tension among four of the principals was lost due to the staging and the fact that the audience had to choose whom to focus upon during scenes. Still, the show is strong, the characters very well drawn, the music light and melody driven. The overall effect drew a well-deserved standing ovation.
Just like most of The Barn’s musicals, “She Loves Me” encourages big opening night attendance. Perhaps it’s the wine reception afterward that celebrates every opening night. “She Loves Me” brought a particularly happy party after the most charming story. Like most of the older musicals, no dark humor, no hidden meanings, no villains–well, there is Steven Ansel’s character, Steven Kodaly–but he’s a likeable jerk and a sleezeball. Overall, “She Loves Me” depends on strong, rounded characters to tell a simple love story or two. The supporting characters also have a special song, a special character, and portray standard types one would expect in a musical/comedy production.
The show is led by Barn favorite Brian Shortess as George Nowack and Krista Eyler as Amalia Balish showcasing their strong voices and acting chops. Both fit well in the story and their chemistry remains strong throughout the show. Mark Murphy turns in a solid performance as George’s co-worker who musically delivers his advice to remain employed and unfurls comedic acting and his big voice with his spotlight solo. And for the second love/hate relationship, no one can help to notice Jessica Alcorn and Steven Ansel and combatant lovers. Both versatile singers and actors, “She Loves Me” gave them a chance to belt away and give notice to their vocal skills.
As a collective ensemble, the cast turns the production into an intimate theatrical performance. The “in the round” style put the audience inside the musical and the parfumerie from start to finish. Director Kipp Simmons selected from some of The Barn’s array of talent and assembled a cast that worked efficiently together. Their combined efforts made the show a success.
The cast is Craig Aikman,, Jessica Alcorn, Steven Ansel, Whitney Armstrong, Paul Brennan, JC Dressler, Krista Eyler, Natasha Gibbons, Charlotte Gilman, David Loethen, Matthew Mc Gaugh, Kathleen Mars, Mark Murphy, Christoph Nevins, Kay Noonan, Joell Ramsdell, Brian Shortess, Miles Wirth. The Production Team is: Kipp Simmons, director; Paul Morel, musical director;; Mitch Simmons, stage manager; Korey Childs, assistant director; Valerie Martin choreographer, Jessica Alcorn, hair and makeup design; MacKenzie Sammons, properties; Ashley Kok, lighting design; Matt Coggins, sound design; Sara Crow Costume designer.
The “She Loves Me” orchestra is: Jonathan Lloyd Schriock, Cara Sharp, Todd Etter, Ry Kincaid, Jonathan Antle, Todd Gregory-Gibbs, Kaytee Deitrich, Anne Sneller, Holly Hague, Kayla Wood, Cynthia Hartwell, Blake Vignery.
Don’t be disappointed with sold out performances at the door. Buy tickets online and ahead of time. Word of mouth as it spreads will sellout this production. For tickets, times, prices, and dates, go to The Barn Players website.
Tags: The Barn Players, “She Loves Me”, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, Kansas City Theater, Kansas City musicals