Loves is in the Air at South Coast Rep

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(left to right) Erin Mackey, Danny Scheie and Brian Vaughn in South Coast Repertory’s 2020 production of “She Loves Me,” on stage now through Feb. 22.
— Photo by  Jordan Kubat/SCR ©

Thanks to Valentine’s Day, February has officially become the month of love, so what better time to present the charming 1963 musical “She Loves Me,” currently on stage at South Coast Repertory through Feb. 22.

The show has an interesting lineage. It’s inspired by Miklós László’s 1937 play, “Parfumerie,” an apt title since the setting is a perfume shop. That play gave rise to the 1940 movie “The Shop Around the Corner,” starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan, and then a 1949 Judy Garland and Van Johnson musical version “In the Good Old Summertime.” That, in turn, led to the 1998 movie “You’ve Got Mail” starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

“She Loves Me” is set in the 1930s at Maraczek’s Parfumerie. Clerks Georg and Amalia are constantly at odds after Amalia successfully lands a position at Maraczek’s, which could threaten Georg’s standing at the business.

Outside of work, Georg and Amalia are each falling madly in love with an anonymous pen pal. Could that anonymous pen pal be the person they most loath?

The Wall Street Journal has called the show “the most romantic of all Broadway musicals” and Variety said it’s “so charming, you kind of wish it would follow you home.”

“She Loves Me” is the first show at SCR directed by the theater’s new artistic director, David Ivers, and he wisely plays it broad when it needs to be, yet intimate when sincerity is key.

“She Loves Me” has charm galore. It’s a delightful production, with bright period costumes, functional sets that rotate and slide around with ease, and a cast with excellent voices and personalities. Erin Mackey has a semi-operatic voice that’s comfortable in soprano range as well as lower octaves, and she exudes a winsome personality that can sting when necessary and melt butter at others. Brian Vaughn is a good match for her as Georg, the shy assistant manager.

The songs are amusing and often catchy, the pace brisk, and the humor contagious. It’s an old-fashioned charmer, to be sure, with an uncomplicated plot that still manages to engage the senses for two hours. You’ll leave with a smile on your face and a song in your heart.

For tickets and more information, visit SCR.org.

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