(better late than never? - my review of She Loves Me)
This musical by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock (book by Joe Masteroff) has had a long provenance before this latest popular mounting at the Meunier Chocolate Factory Theatre in London, in November 2016. Based on an Hungarian play written in 1937, (English title Parfumerie,) it has spawned three films and the above-mentioned musical. Ernst Lubitsch directed The Shop around the Corner (1940), with James Stuart and Margaret Sullavan. Judy Garland and Van Johnson starred in a semi-musical adaptation, The Good Old Summertime (1949), and Nora Ephron adapted and directed You’ve Got Mail (1998). The musical appeared in 1963 and this is what I saw last mnoth – different production of course. Most recently (2009) Soulpepper Theatre in Toronto presented the play, translated and adapted by Adam Pettle, and remounted it for a second season. I saw it twice, charmed not only by the story but also by the set design.
I purposely did not name the playwright because I was wrong for a long time. I thought it was written by my favourite Hungarian playwright, Ferenc Molnar, but it was not. The writer was Miklós Laszló. He left Hungary before World War II and became an American citizen and obviously had some success with Parfumerie and one or two others. but he wrote something like 80 plays and they are performed in Europe, translated into other languages, but not into English. I wish.
One of the delightful perks of the theatre tour I was on was the opportunity to listen to actors in some of the plays we saw, and one director (more of him later, not now), as well as a leading theatre critic, a political guru and two Shakespeare buffs associated with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Quelle richesse! I know I’m being slow about it but I will share some of it with you. It's not just me, it's my provider.
Our actress from the performance I saw was Katherine Kingsley who sat and talked to us after the show. A tall, beautiful blonde, she played Ilona Ritter, a saucy vamp (lovely old word) who finally gets her true love. She had recently played Lena in a production of Singin’ in the Rain, which was very hard on her voice. as she demonstrated. If you remember the story, you’ll understand why.
Well, it was a lovely bit of fluff, well done, and a pleasant way of starting our cultural discoveries. Obviously, I am not reporting in the order that I encountered them. Take it as it comes.