Capital Rep turns to a beloved musical for the holidays
It's likely that contemporary audiences know it best through the film, "You've Got Mail," which starred Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Older audiences might recall the 1940 film "The Shop Around the Corner" with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. It was also a 1949 Judy Garland musical, "In the Good Old Summertime."
If you're a theater buff, you'll identify with the original 1963 Broadway production or the 2016 revival. More than likely you saw the show at one of its many productions at some regional or non-professional theaters.
Clearly, it's been around. Michael McCorry Rose, who is playing the male lead, Georg, insisted in a recent telephone interview that the Capital Rep production will not attempt to make the material more contemporary by tinkering with the storyline, which is set in the late-1930s. "I love that there are no cell phones or modern communication devices. It's about two people expressing themselves through the written word. It's sweet, personal and honest."
He explained that "She Loves Me" is about two people who work together and dislike each other immediately. But unknown to each other they are pen pals who fall in love through their letters. Rose jokes that the premise is as modern as the computer. "In the play the characters meet through what's called a Lonely Hearts' Club. Today it's match.com.," he says.
Rose continues, "It isn't about how you meet that makes the show special to every generation. It's the idea of wondering if the person who could be the love of your life is working right beside you and you might never know it.."
He adds that the show might have even more resonance to today's society where people tend to be more insulated from each other. "My character, Georg, is a diligent worker, very efficient and formal at work. In the evenings he reads great literature and loves fine art. He's a man of substance; a sensitive, literate man who can express himself through the written word. People at work like him, but the question underneath the basic plot of how do you meet your true love, is does anyone really know anyone else?"
The sincerity of the characters is something else that appeals to the actor. "I can't think of too many other plays in which the characters behave like real human beings. In `She Loves Me, it's not like the playwright makes them do things for the sake of the plot. The people in the play behave the way people do in real life."
When asked if he was at all daunted by following in the footsteps of legends like Hanks and Stewart, Rose ansewered, "Not really. If that ever creeps into my thoughts, I stop and realize the director picked me for the qualities I can bring to the character. Why change the person the director saw as being the right Georg? If I am true to myself, I will be true to the character."
Rose, who performed at Capital Rep in "How Water Behaves" in 2015, has a personal theory that director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill hand-picked the cast not only for their talent and individual skill sets, but because she saw them as able to form a total unit. "I have never felt more comfortable at a first reading than I did with this cast,' Rose said. "Things clicked with all of us and carried into the rehearsal process. It's like a love fest on and off stage."
He admits to having an "actors crush" on his female lead, Julie Burrows, who plays Amelia, the girl he loves. "The minute I heard her sing I was in awe," he said. "I grew up listening to Barbara Cook, who created the role, on the cast album. So I have high standards about the role. Julie meets and exceeds them."
Indeed, he says the affection the cast has for each other makes it easier to be away from home for most of the holiday season. But more to the point he says, "Because the people in the play are like family, the affection the cast has for each other will capture those feelings on stage."
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