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She Loves Me – Ye Olde Rose and Crown, London

Book: Joe Masteroff

Music: Jerry Bock

Lyrics: Sheldon Harnick

Director: Tim McArthur

Reviewer: Jenni Rymer

[rating:3]

From its origins of the musical hub of 1960’s Broadway; written by lyricist / composer team Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick of Fiddler on the Roof fame All Star Productions has revived the timeless tale ‘She Loves Me’.

Adapted from the 1930’s novel ‘Parfumerie’ She Loves Me is a love story that indulges the notion that beauty lies within. Protagonists Amalia (Carrie Sutton) and Georg (Howard Jenkins) are fellow clerks who are renowned for their constant bickering, yet unbeknown that they are in fact the subject of each other’s desires as they anonymously converse with each other through love letters after responding to a lonely hearts advertisement.

The concept and characterisation of this production are brilliantly portrayed by the extremely talented cast. To be graced with the voices of current and undoubtedly future west end stars in a small theatre above an East End pub is a fantastic experience. The vocal stylings of all of the cast members especially those of the phenomenal Carrie Sutton (Amalia) are outstanding.

Sadly though, it is all a little long winded and ultimately anticlimactic. The strong cast work the lengthy script well and produce splashes of superb comedic genius, but this does not distract from how drawn out this production is. While admirable that they have stuck to the original script, for a modern audience sat on very uncomfortable seats, it really could have done with being edited down to about half the length, especially when the conclusion – three hours in the making – is so fleeting.

That said, it cannot be denied that the setting, lighting, music, costumes, and performance are all fabulous. The audience is absorbed into the 1930’s Parfumerie shop world, and the lives of those who work there. The message of how love built on inner beauty is more emotionally rewarding than that built on lust is delivered superbly.Just bring a cushion!

Runs until 27th October

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