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LOVES ME" AT SLU – Southeastern Louisiana University students Amanda Tarver
of Gonzales, left, and Cameron Bishop of Oak Grove, right, who portray
"Ilona Ritter" and "Ladislav Sipos" in the Southeastern Opera-Music Theatre
Program's production of the musical "She Love Me," rehearse a scene as
their fellow cast members watch from the wings. The show runs February
26-28 at Southeastern's Pottle Music Building Auditorium.
AND AMALIA -- Matthew Packard of Arabi, left, has the lead role of "Georg,"
the manager of a perfume shop, who is feuding with co-worker "Amalia,"
Sarah Osterberger of Baton Rouge, right, who, unbeknownst to them both,
is his anonymous sweetheart penpal. That's the plot of "She Loves Me,"
the Southeastern Louisiana University Opera-Music Theatre Program's spring
production, February 26-28, at Pottle Music Building Auditorium.
SOUTHEASTERN STAGES "CHARMING"
HAMMOND -- Charles Effler had
never heard of the musical "She Loves Me."
But when the interim director
of Southeastern Louisiana University's Opera-Music Theatre Program listened
to a recording, "By the second song, I was totally captivated," he said.
"I just wanted to do it."
He is confident that the audiences
who see the show, which critics universally describe as a "charming," will
be just as hooked.
Southeastern's Opera-Music Theatre
Program will stage "She Loves Me" February 26-28 at Pottle Music Building
Artist-in-residence Larry Gray,
who is directing "She Loves Me," is just as sold as Effler.
"She Loves Me," he said, is based
on a play that in turn inspired a 1940s movie, "Shop Around the Corner,"
starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan. The premise of the musical
is not new — it's one that has been explored in a number of different versions,
including in the recent hit film, "You've Got Mail."
"She Loves Me," which debuted
in 1963 and was revived on Broadway to rave reviews and Tony nominations
30 years later, tells the story of Georg and Amalia, two feuding clerks
in a European parfumerie in the 1930s. Both secretly find solace in their
anonymous romantic pen pals, little knowing that their respective correspondents
are none other than each other.
Also populating the perfume shop
are a slick womanizer, his worldly-wise girlfriend, a jealous proprietor,
and customers bustling about because there are only "Twelve Days to Christmas."
Rounding out the score are "Tonight at Eight," "Vanilla Ice Cream," and
the title song, "She Loves Me."
"It's charming," said Gray. "That's
the word that everybody uses. It's not hilarious, farcical fall-on-the-floor
funny, and it's not full of big production numbers. The word is just ‘charming.'
People just love it. You leave the theater really feeling good."
One critic described "She Loves
Me" as being "so charming, so deft, so light and so right that it makes
all the other music shows in the big Broadway shops look like clodhoppers."
Said another, "‘She Loves Me' is that rare theatrical jewel, an intimate
musical that affectionately enfolds an audience instead of shouting it
"The show opens with a song,
but it's not a big production number to get people in the mood," said Gray.
"It's just people saying ‘Good Morning....Why don't we take the day off?...Well,
but we would lose our jobs...' It's normal conversation among the people
who work there while they're waiting for the boss to come open the door."
"It's not typical," he explained.
"In most musicals, somebody sings because the script isn't good enough
for what's going on at that moment. They want to say ‘I love you' or ‘I'm
in despair.' The songs in ‘She Loves Me' are in the show not because they
are high-point emotional moments, they are just part of the story."
Adds Effler, "The music is wonderful,
so well composed. It adapts itself very well to the classical music techniques
our students are learning."
Gray has been working with a
young cast of Southeastern singers, including freshman
Matthew Packard of Arabi as Georg and Jacquie Brecheen of Ponchatoula
and Sarah Osterberger of Baton Rouge, who have been double-cast as Amalia.
Because the show calls for only
two female performers, Gray and Effler made room for more Southeastern
women by also double-casting Patricia Ramirez of Hammond and Amanda Tarver
of Gonzales as "Ilona Ritter," and changing a delivery boy into a delivery
girl, a role that is being shared by Wendy Kinchen and Marsha M. Scott,
both of Ponchatoula.
Rounding out the cast are James
Flick of South Charleston, W.Va., as Georg's fellow perfume shop employee
"Steven Kodaly"; Bradley Barrios of Larose as store owner "Mr.
Maraczek"; and Cameron Bishop of Oak Grove as obsequious ladies man
"Ladislav Sipos"; Christopher Siren of Lighthouse Point, Fla., as the"Head
Waiter"; and Dimitri Trush of Hammond as an on stage violinist.
Chorus members are Christina
Babin, Prairieville; Darell Haynes, Luling; Michelle LeBlanc, Gonzales;
Clifford Moore, Opelousas; Betty Turner, Hammond; Terrence Ennis, Baton
Rouge; and Ben Oliveria, Slidell.
Gray said set and lighting designer
Steve Schepker has designed what may well be a first for the Pottle Auditorium
stage — a rotating set. Cast members turn the rectangular set to reveal
the shop's exterior and interior. The devise also helps the director fit
a total of five different scenes, including a cafe, a hospital room and
Amalia's bedroom, onto the small stage.
"It's been difficult to figure
out how to do all five scenes. Steve's done a great job," Gray said.
Many set elements, Effler added,
will be two-dimensional. For instance, the shop's inventory of perfume
bottles will be painted on three-dimensional shelves. "Otherwise props
would have cost a fortune, it would have taken forever, and we would have
had all these little bottles shaking when you turned the set," he said,
Effler had given up on finding
one key prop — a vintage bicycle for the delivery girl -- and had actually
purchased a new model, when a chance conversation with a friend turned
up the hard-to-find item.
"Carlo Giacone (a Southeastern
music alumnus who has appeared in a number of Pottle Music Building Auditorium
shows) mentioned that he has an uncle in Independence who reconditions
used bikes," Effler said. "So, I rode up there and, sure enough, he had
a a 1939 bicycle."
Such realistic props will nicely
counterbalance the two-dimensional, painted elements of Schepker's set
design, and the brightly-colored "a little bit over the top" costumes,
many of which are being specially constructed for Southeastern's show.
"I think people will walk out
thinking this is the best musical they've ever seen," said Effler. "The
material — both the music and the script -- is so strong."
Curtain time for
"She Loves Me" is 7:30 p.m. Tickets, available only at the door, are $12
for adults; and $8 for Southeastern, faculty, staff, and non-Southeastern
students. Admission is free for Southeastern students with their university
For additional information about
"She Loves Me," contact Charles Effler at 985-549-2249 or firstname.lastname@example.org.