These days we can all use an injection of Utterly Charming. So the timing couldn’t be better for this delightful revival of Harnick and Bock’s She Loves Me. Even those who are not familiar with the play on which the work is based or the movies that sprang from it can take comfort in the title. This is clearly not a performance that is going to leave you emotionally shattered and sleepless.
Comfort is derived from the moment David Rockwell’s appealing set is revealed. Throughout most of the show, the rooms of the enchanting Maraczek’s Parfumerie open, close and turn in central 1934 Budapest. The store is peopled by staff and shoppers all captivatingly clothed by Jeff Mahshie. But it is the clever and catchy lyrics by the incomparable Sheldon Harnick that draw us most into this world in which boy meets girl, boy and girl get on each other’s nerves and boy buys girl ice cream. At 92, Mr. Harnick is still actively engaged in the production process. He has even added a few new lines to this incarnation of his musical originally produced in 1963.
Of course, much of the joy comes from watching this particularly lively cast at work under the direction of Scott Ellis. Jane Krakowski appropriately thanked her hamstrings at the recent Drama Desk Awards for helping her steal every scene she is in. Her bright energy is reinforced by the sly and slightly smarmy lover portrayed by Gavin Creel. In the role of new girl Amalia Balash, Laura Benanti delivers the right mixture of cotton balls and steel wool. And for this true blue Chuck fan it was a particular thrill to see the multitalented Zachary Levi throw himself into the romantic lead, Georg Nowack, with genuine exuberance and a sprinkle of Jimmy Stewart to satisfy purists.
Vital support for these headliners is provided by Byron Jennings, Tom McGowan, Peter Bartlett and high school senior (!) Nicholas Barasch. The entire team is so good together that this piece has been chosen for the first live stream event on BroadwayHD in June and a new cast album due to be released later this year.
She Loves Me is a satisfying confection for anyone in need of some old fashioned sweetness. The 2 1/2 hours are sure to fly by. It is currently playing at Studio 54 with tickets are on sale through July 10 at https://www.roundabouttheatre.org/Shows-Events/She-Loves-Me.aspx.