Remove any references to email from the popular film “You’ve Got Mail” and you have the basic plot of “She Loves Me,” the current theater production at Anderson University. Oh, and for an added touch of old-fashioned romance, set the play in 1930s Budapest.
The student-led musical has two performances Saturday, in time for homecoming activities, and continues through next weekend at Byrum Hall. [Photo: Ladislav Sipos, played by Mitchell Bowen, left, listens to George Nowack, played by David Evans, read a love letter he wrote to an anonymous woman in "She Loves Me," a musical being performed at Anderson University's Byrum Hall this Saturday and next weekend.]
The original “She Loves Me” goes back to Broadway in 1963 and was based on “The Shop Around the Corner,” a 1940 film starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan. Little has changed with the plot, still centering around employees in a perfume store and focusing on the tug-of-war relationship between clerks George Nowack and Amalia Balash. Both are seeking true romance by writing anonymous letters to pen pals who turn out to be, you can guess, one another. The highlight of the first act occurs when they are to meet in a restaurant and Nowack realizes his pen pal is his foe.
David Evans as George and Chelsea Leis as Amalia have pleasant, quite likeable demeanors. Their hate-love relationship is believable and effective. Evans carefully balances swagger with bewilderment. Leis is truly committed to her character, longing to meet the man behind the letters.
Similarly true is the lesser romance between clerks Steven (played Eric Butts) and Ilona (Chelsea Kendall), which also swings realistically between infatuation and irritation. The show’s only non-student equity guest artist, Robert Neal, is strong and commanding as the tough shop owner Maraczek who discovers his wife is having an affair. Neal, by the way, has performed 11 seasons with Indiana Repertory Theatre, has been in numerous regional theater productions and performed with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
The cast shows promise with dance routines, based on Tuesday’s rehearsal (remember actors, it was a rehearsal for the props, too). As always, the higher range of the vocals tend to blur the words but most of the lyrics are crisp.
While performances are sharp (everyone has a smile and enjoys their roles it seems), the set design and lighting are open and inviting — a welcome approach in bringing the characters closer to the audience.
— Scott L. Miley is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Story reposted with permission. Photo Credit: Don Knight.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.