The IU Opera Theatre’s summer musical was Bock and Harnick’s charming little show, "She Loves Me."
Saturday night’s performance was quite a treat. Guest conductor Dale Rieling expertly paced the evening leading an outstanding cast of singer-actors and a full twenty-seven-piece orchestra. Vincent Liotta’s clever stage direction and choreography nicely presented the drama and left a good deal of space for verbal and some delightfully worked out physical comedy.
Benjamin Ely was nicely cast as the elderly store owner of Maraczek’s Parfumerie. The smooth, but occasionally puzzled, Nicholas Provenzale and the feisty Courtney Crouse were very good as combative co-workers who discover that they have a secret letter writing courtship. Cashier Jennifer Feinstein was peppy as a lady who’s worldly-wise on the outside but naïve on the inside. Jacob Sentgeorge was just incredibly appealing as a very sympathetic older employee. Erik Friedman played the store’s slickest salesman, a man for the ladies both during and after business hours. Mathew Gailey was a charmer as the energetic delivery boy who rises to a place on the sales floor.
In addition to the action at the Parfumerie in "She Loves Me," there was a lot going on at the Café Imperiale where the lovers almost met. The Imperiale was a curious place that offered an intimate European atmosphere with Chinese Food, a strolling Gypsy Violinist and Rumba orchestra. The Café was the site for some exceptional comedy as headwaiter Brian Samarzea and his hapless busboy Marc Schapman worked to maintain the club’s romantic atmosphere. Rodolfo Mellado was the strolling string player.
"She Loves Me" with its durable love story, distinctive Broadway style and polish, and slight tinge of far-away-places was a lovely summer gift for the audience.
It is of course bad news that repairs on the Musical Arts Center this summer have forced the Music School to use other venues. Some are smaller and some larger. However, the more intimate Ruth N. Halls in the IU Theatre complex was a delightful place for this little jewel of a show. Coming up on the thirtieth and thirty-first the Music School’s production of Puccini’s opera "Tosca" will exploit the larger area of the IU Auditorium.