'She Loves Me' opens tonight at Firehouse | April 12, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |


Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - April 12, 2013

'She Loves Me' opens tonight at Firehouse

Pacific Coast Repertory Company presenting musical romantic comedy through April 28

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Remember the movie "You've Got Mail" with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan? If it was a favorite of yours, you must see its musical predecessor, "She Loves Me," which opens tonight at the Firehouse Arts Cetner.

Pacific Coast Repertory Company is presenting the musical, described as a warm romantic comedy of endearing innocence with a touch of old world elegance. It was written by the lyrics-and-music writing team of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, who also created "Fiddler On the Roof."

"She Loves Me," based on the much-adapted script of "Parfumerie" by Hungarian playwright Miklos Laszlo, is the story of Georg Nowack and Amalia Balash, co-workers who unwittingly meet through a Lonely Hearts column. Unaware that they are secret pen pals, they constantly bicker as things don't go well in the shop.

Complicating things further is Georg's boss who suspects Georg of having an affair with his wife. Other characters bring life and tension to the story, as Amalia and Georg find their way to each other.

Director and choreographer Lois Grandi returns to PCRT for this new production, having garnered numerous accolades for "Chicago," her maiden production with the company.

Grandi, who enjoyed an award-winning 13-year run as founder and artistic director of Playhouse West, said she loves working with PCRT because of the professional standards it embodies.

"We have always been on the same page," she said.

She jumped at the chance to work on "She Loves Me," which premiered in 1963 when she was a working actor, dancer and singer in New York.

"Unlike traditional musicals of that time, it had a sweet story everyone can relate to in some way -- two lonely people looking for love, and who can't relate to that?" she said.

Playing the female lead role of Amalia is Amy Baker.

"Her voice will take your breath away," Grandi said, noting that she is wonderful and vulnerable in the role.

PCRT familiar David Judson plays the leading male role of Georg, a complete reversal of his role as Billy Flynn in the "Chicago" production.

Also joining the cast is Pleasanton favorite Lauren Bratton-Kearns, last seen in PCRT's opening season production of "Beauty and the Beast." Having grown up in Pleasanton, Bratton-Kearns attended Contra Costa Ballet Center for eight years before earning her dance degree from UC Irvine. She went on to study for two years at Alvin Ailey in New York City, where she currently lives and performs with several dance companies.

Musical direction is by Pat Parr, scenic design by Patrick Bandon, lighting design by Chris Guptill, and costumes by Liz Martin.

A special "Inside the Show" discussion with the principal actors and director Grandi will take place after the Sunday matinee performance on April 14. Admission is free with a ticket to the performance.

Music, romance and laughs