You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Broadway Review: ‘She Loves Me’ With Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi, Jane Krakowski

Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi, Gavin Creel, Byron Jennings, Michael McGrath, Jane Krakowski, Peter Bartlett, Nicholas Barasch.

The Roundabout Theater Company’s enchanting Broadway revival of “She Loves Me” is so charming, you kind of wish it would follow you home. The show is a special triumph for director Scott Ellis, who also staged the company’s first revival (in 1993) of the 1963 musical, with its luscious score by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick and heart-melting book by Joe Masteroff. Laura Benanti and Zachary Levi are endearing as the shy lovers in this intimate romantic comedy, the supporting cast (including Jane Krakowski) constitutes a dream team, and the stagecraft is absolutely flawless. 

The year is 1934, when the sophisticated citizens of Budapest aspired to the level of class and good taste represented by Maraczek’s Parfumerie.  David Rockwell’s alluring shop setting is a beautiful bandbox, stocked with all manner of eye-catching beauty products in sparkling glass cases and vitrines and manned by a sales staff that aspires to be equally elegant and stylish.

“We’re not a butcher shop or a hardware store,” as Sheldon Harnick’s delicious lyrics point out in the opening number (wittily choreographed by Warren Carlyle) in which Maraczek’s opens for business and the sales clerks cater to a chorus of fashionable women dressed in Jeff Mahshie’s chic period costumes. Even the men look snazzy, in their jaunty fedoras.

Miss Amalia Balash (Laura Benanti), who recently lost her job at a rival parfumerie, joins this posh company by proving her savvy at talking rich matrons into buying expensive products they don’t need.  In addition to her glorious soprano voice, Benanti has great comedy chops, a rarity with Broadway divas who aren’t named Patti Lupone. She’s at her best here in a part that has been waiting for her to come along, a part that seems to love her.  The songs “Vanilla Ice Cream” and “Where’s My Shoe?” have her name on them — and that’s that.

It’s close to Christmas and the feeling in the air is generally festive (and candy-colored, in Donald Holder’s upbeat lighting design). But there are darker personal dramas playing out in the house of Maraczek that might blight the holiday spirit.

Miss Ilona Ritter (the divine Krakowski, whose comic gifts know no limits) and Mr. Steven Kodaly (so natty and such a cad, in Gavin Creel’s dashing performance) are having an affair. The affair ends badly, but their flirting builds to a song-and-dance duet (“Ilona”) that’s pure high comedy.

Mr. Maraczek, a lovely man played with dignity by Byron Jennings, has been distraught since he learned that his wife is having an affair — with one of his sales clerks. In a score meticulously orchestrated by Larry Hochman and rich with wall-to-wall musical highlights, including memorable songs like “Dear Friend” and “She Loves Me,” Mr. Maraczek’s bittersweet “Days Gone By” might easily have been lost.

But the intimate drama that really strums the heartstrings is the one between Miss Balash and Mr. Georg Nowack (that rare romantic hero you don’t want to shoot on sight, in Levi’s engaging performance). The two have been exchanging pen pal letters for months without knowing each other’s identity. (The story, based on the play “Parfumerie” by Miklos Laszlo, also served as the inspiration for films including “The Shop Around the Corner” and “You’ve Got Mail.”)  Now it’s time for the pen pals to meet — in the romantic setting of the Cafe Imperiale. In this plush setting a worldly headwaiter (Peter Bartlett, born to play this part and every other one like it) comforts Amalia after her heart is broken (with deep feeling, in Benanti’s lovely rendering of “Dear Friend”).

“She Loves Me” opened during a period when big, fat musicals ruled the day on Broadway (Bock and Harnick’s masterpiece, “Fiddler on the Roof,” being a case in point). This little jewel of a musical may have been lost in its original setting, but we know better now.


Broadway Review: 'She Loves Me' With Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi, Jane Krakowski

Studio 54; 1,006 seats; $147 top. Opened March 17. Reviewed March 11. Running time: TWO HOURS, 30 MIN.

Production: A Roundabout Theater Company production of a musical in two acts, based on a play by Miklos Laszlo, with book by Joe Masteroff, music by Jerry Bock, and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick.

Creative: Directed by Scott Ellis. Choreographed by Warren Carlyle. Music direction by Paul Gemignani. Sets, David Rockwell; costumes, Jeff Mahshie; lighting, Donald Holder; sound, Jon Weston; orchestrations, Larry Hochman; dance arrangements & incidental music, David Krane; hair & wigs, David Brian Brown; makeup, Christian McCulloch; production stage manager, Scott Taylor Rollison.

Cast: Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi, Gavin Creel, Byron Jennings, Michael McGrath, Jane Krakowski, Peter Bartlett, Nicholas Barasch.

More Legit

  • Hugh Jackman'To Kill a Mockingbird' Broadway

    'To Kill a Mockingbird's' Starry Opening: Oprah, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and More

    The Shubert Theatre in New York City last was filled on Thursday night with Oscar winners, media titans, and, of course, Broadway legends who came out for the opening of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The starry guest list included Oprah Winfrey, Barry Diller, “Les Misérables” co-stars Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Gayle King, [...]

  • Pat Gelbart Obit Dead

    Actress Pat Gelbart, Wife of 'MASH' Creator, Dies at 94

    Pat Gelbart, widow of late “MASH” creator Larry Gelbart, died surrounded by family at her home in Westwood, Calif. on Dec. 11. She was 94. Gelbart was born in Minneapolis, Minn. in 1928 as Marriam Patricia Murphy. When she met her husband, Gelbart was an actress, known for the 1947 musical “Good News,” in which [...]

  • To Kill a Mockingbird review

    Broadway Review: 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

    Against all odds, writer Aaron Sorkin and director Bartlett Sher have succeeded in crafting a stage-worthy adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic American novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The ever-likable Daniels, whose casting was genius, gives a strong and searching performance as Atticus Finch, the small-town Southern lawyer who epitomizes the ideal human qualities of goodness, [...]

  • Isabelle HuppertIsabelle Huppert Life Achievement Award,

    Isabelle Huppert, Chris Noth to Appear on Stage in 'The Mother'

    Isabelle Huppert will appear opposite Chris Noth in the Atlantic Theater Company’s production of “The Mother.” It marks the U.S. premiere of the show. “The Mother” was written by French playwright Florian Zeller and translated by Christopher Hampton. Huppert, an icon of European film, was Oscar-nominated for “Elle” and appears in the upcoming Focus Features [...]

  • Could Anyone Follow ‘Springsteen on Broadway’?

    Could Anyone Follow 'Springsteen on Broadway'? Here Are Five Things They'd Need (Guest Column)

    After 235-odd shows, with grosses in excess of $100 million, a Special Tony Award and a hotly anticipated Netflix special debuting Sunday, “Springsteen on Broadway” is an unprecedented Broadway blockbuster. As with any success in entertainment, the rush to replicate The Boss’ one-man show reportedly is under way, with a consortium led by Live Nation, CAA [...]

  • Clueless review

    Off Broadway Review: 'Clueless' the Musical

    How does a musical stage adaptation of Amy Heckerling’s 1995 film comedy of oblivious privileged teens, “Clueless,” play in the era of female empowerment and millennial engagement? True, the principal skills of lead teen Cher Horowitz are the superficial ones of mall shopping and makeovers. But her sweet spirit and independence, plus some added P.C. relevance, [...]

  • Ley Line Unveils Brian Wilson Documentary,

    Ley Line Unveils Brian Wilson Documentary, 'Hugo Cabret' Musical

    Producers Tim Headington and Theresa Steele Page have unveiled Ley Line Entertainment with a Brian Wilson documentary and a “Hugo Cabret” musical in the works. Ley Line said it’s a content development, production, and financing company with projects spanning film, television, stage, and music. Headington financed and produced “The Young Victoria,” “Argo,” “Hugo,” and “World [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content