By Marcina Zaccaria
In She Loves Me, with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and book by Joe Masteroff, two clerks at Maraczek’s Parfumerie secretly join a Lonely Hearts Club, writing letters anonymously with no realization they are writing to each other. This year’s revival, on Broadway at Roundabout Theatre Company’s Studio 54, is filled with humor and glamour.
Maraczek’s Parfumerie – stocked with Mona Lisa crème and colored spray bottles – remains bright, as Georg, charismatically played by Zachary Levi, and Amalia, played by Tony Award Winner Laura Benati, endure their petty squabbles. Separately, they are not afraid to show their human frailty. Georg is enchanting in “Tonight at Eight” as the anxious, bumbling clerk who can’t wait to meet his match; Amalia is perfectly wistful in “Will He Like Me?”
She Loves Me is filled with apprehension and indecision. At the Café Imperiale, next to a book of Anna Karenina, Amalia waits for her true love. In one of the best designed and choreographed moments in the show, “A Romantic Atmosphere” ensues. Scenic Design by David Rockwell keeps cabaret alive with a bright, red curtain, and Choreographer Warren Carlyle keeps the 1930s feel of the musical sexy and smoldering. In another standout number, “Ilona,” Jane Krakowski (Tony and Olivier Award winner, Emmy & Golden Globe nominee) and Gavin Creel (Kodaly) whirl around the stage. In a production set in Budapest and filled with red, Krakowski brings just the right amount of flair and honesty. “I Resolve,” brilliantly performed by Krakowski, typifies her insistence on being a better woman.
What emerges after the intermission is a charming, light comedy where Georg and Amalia finally fall in love. Director Scott Ellis has no difficulty getting to the heart of the matter. Unlike the 1993 revival of She Loves Me, this year’s production – celebrating Roundabout’s 50th season – is more colorful. Zachary Levi is unstoppable, with endless appeal. He and the entire ensemble remain clever and light on their feet. When Georg finally appears in Amalia’s room, after she is suffering from a slight illness, it is surprising. In a very credible change of heart, Amalia finds her adoration for Georg. In the song, “Vanilla Ice Cream,” Laura Benanti’s purring soprano is smooth, hitting every high note in this classic tune. Benati’s interpretation is unrivaled, and wonders actually never cease.
Heart-filled performances are delivered by Tony Award Winner Michael McGrath as Sipos, the employee who respectfully holds down the fort, reminding co-workers to keep their jobs. Strong supporting performances are also delivered by Byron Jennings as the no-nonsense Mr. Maraczek and Nicholas Barasch, who plays Arpad Laszlo, the willing clerk. Though some of the earlier moments could have been tightened, “Twelve Days to Christmas” zips along.
Seeing is believing, and Maraczek’s Parfumerie might always be a place where people can find love, along with their face cream. She Loves Me reminds you that falling in love practically makes you want to do cartwheels.
She Loves Me in a Limited Engagement through June 12, 2016 www.roundabouttheatre.org 2 hours, 30 minutes with intermission