Did the critics fall for She Loves Me?
A revival of Sheldon Harnick's 1963 musical has opened at the Menier Chocolate Factory
Sarah Crompton, WhatsOnStage
"It is that rarest of things: a musical with a gentle heart, an acerbically witty script and a view of romance that is always warm but never sentimental. Oh, and it's got some brilliant songs as well. In short, a jewel and one perfectly served by this delicate revival directed by Matthew White."
"And the performances are simply delicious. Mark Umber makes Georg as pompous as Amalia initially thinks him, but gawky too, forever biting his knuckles or rubbing his hands, a man unsure of his position in the world yet trying to hide his doubts."
"Scarlett Strallen makes Amalia a wide-eyed, ditzy dreamer, with a fierce line in crushing put downs. Yet her constant hopefulness and the way she strives for happiness is genuinely touching."
"It's the kind of show you can watch at any time of year and emerge feeling goodwill to all men. Utterly heavenly."
Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard
"The elegant, intimate, ordered world of the shop in the run-up to Christmas is impeccably conjured in Matthew White's charming production, so much so that we wish we could buy some beautifully packaged gifts of our own there."
"There's terrific support from that fine comic actress Katherine Kingsley as their blond, buxom and romantically forlorn colleague Ilona, who has a winning way with the mordant one-liner."
"This is surely bound for a West End transfer. Until then, it's an early Christmas present of the best sort imaginable."
Michael Billington, The Guardian
" "This may be the best production of She Loves Me I've seen," said the show's 91-year-old lyricist, Sheldon Harnick, in a first-night curtain speech. Since I missed the London productions in 1964 and 1994, it's the only one I've seen and I must say it's a delight."
"It's a show that gains from the intimacy of the Menier setting and the skilfulness of White's staging."
"Mark Umbers as Georg suggests the character hides his shyness behind a facade of condescension. Scarlett Strallen, while belying the waiter's observation that Amalia is "no great beauty", perfectly captures a bookish girl's slowly dawning appreciation of love."
"Les Dennis as the store-owner and Dominic Tighe as a love rat lend excellent support to a show that exudes a seductive, old-world charm."
Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
"I have to confess that for 15 minutes so [sic] of this new revival at the Menier Chocolate Factory, I was readying for disappointment and wondered whether we were going to have to indulge artistic director David Babani."
"There's a lot of old-world charm on display (Broadway's idea of that, at any rate) but I wasn't really buying it."
"Yet, from cool indifference to sudden interest and then full-blown infatuation: just as the musical charts the coming-together, against initial disdain, of two singleton shop-assistants, both of whom have been unwittingly corresponding as anonymous and amorous pen-pals, so I became increasingly smitten."
"The musical accompaniment and singing are first-class, and what starts off looking like the unwanted parcel at the bottom of the tree (there's even a neat evocation of the increasingly demented Christmas shopping rush) winds up looking like gift-wrapped perfection."
Alice Saville, Time Out
"It's well-stocked with endlessly inventive, pun-tastic lyrics and a memorable score, written by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock – the dreamteam behind Fiddler on the Roof. But this is a rather frothier outlet for their talents."
"Umbers is doing an excellent Rex Harrison impersonation that delivers on comedy but not on chemistry."
"If its central pair of lovers are more like good friends, you can see why. This musical gets all its complexity from Harnick and Bock's artful, witty score - if it's real romance you're shopping for, might I suggest You've Got Mail."
Mark Shenton, The Stage
"Somehow it makes it all the more relatable and less of a period curiosity. But it is also played with exactly the right blend of sincerity and feeling; Les Dennis is heartbreaking as a cuckolded shopkeeper, while Alastair Brookshaw is quietly affecting as a man clinging insecurely to his job."
"Paul Farnsworth's set folds out into an invitingly luxurious shop, shadowy restaurant and Ilona's bedroom, as required, with effortless resourcefulness."
"Bock and Harnick's musical masterpiece is a fragrant delight in every sense, and not just because the shop it is set in trades in perfume, and it is given the sweetest-looking and sounding production in town."
She Loves Me runs at the Menier Chocolate Factory until 4 March.