She Loves Me (Landor Theatre)
The award-winning musical receives an evocative and intimate revival
Bock, Harnick and Masteroff's light romantic comedy She Loves Me won a slew of Tonys and Oliviers in the mid-1990s. Based on a play by Miklos Lazslo, it morphed into The Shop Around the Corner and then the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie, You've Got Mail.
The premise is a simple one, frequently revisited: Pen pals fall in love on paper, all the while not realising that they know, and dislike, each other in real life. Around them, other relationships play out, while the two protagonists bicker until all is eventually revealed.
The action takes place in a 1930s Budapest perfumery. David Shields' cleverly designed set with its sliding counters and beautiful backdrop, is a Tardis-like use of the Landor's small performance space. Robert McWhir's production makes full use of the space and the talented cast sing the heck out of a series of witty but largely unmemorable narrative songs.
Charlotte Jaconelli (Britain's Got Talent runner-up with Jonathan Antoine a couple of years ago) is a confident soprano and gives Amalia Balash an endearing vulnerability within the feisty shop-assistant. John Sandberg shines as Georg Nowack, not least in the show-stopping title song. Arpad Laszlo (Joshua LeClair) is a relentlessly perky delivery boy. But it's Ian Dring who steals it with his totally over-the-top turn as the night-club waiter, posturing and gesticulating as though sending some crazy semaphore message.
Eventually, the stream of songs all begin to sound similar and, while the pace is maintained throughout, this piece manages to feel both over-long and yet with an over-abrupt ending. The minimal themes around loving people for who they are rather than what they look like are glossed over. But it's not intended to be great drama. She Loves Me delivers a fun and thoroughly entertaining evening and was definitely worth reviving. And the three-piece band under the direction of Iain Vince-Gatt provides the perfect accompaniment.
She Loves Me continues at the Landor until 7 March