Richard and I saw this musical on Broadway on 4/10. I was looking forward to it for a long time: I had been a dresser for this show in college and had fond memories of it. It didn't just live up to my expectations, it far surpassed them. It's a darling jewel of a show.
The source material is well-known to lovers of romantic comedies: it was turned into Lubitsch's *The Shop Around the Corner* with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan and later into Ephron's *You've Got Mail* with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. But the musical might be better than either of them!
It has a score by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, who also did *Fiorello!* and *Fiddler on the Roof*, and a book by Joe Masteroff, who also did *Cabaret*. That's a whole lot of talent in one show, and clearly they loved the material. The show bursts with charm, wit, and warmth.
We got a call and an email at 11:00 that morning, saying that Laura Benanti would not be appearing in the role of Amalia. But you can't exchange your tickets, so what's the good of knowing? I guess if you're a dyed-in-the-wool Benanti fan, you have the option of staying home. But, as much as we love Benanti, we were going for the show, not as much for her. And her understudy, Laura Shoop, was very good. It looks like she was hired and/or coached to do a Benanti impersonation. We had the same experience with the guy filling in for Matthew Broderick in *Nice Work If You Can Get It* a few years ago. It kinda gave me the heebie-jeebies then, but it didn't bother me this time.
The leading man was Zachary Levi, and he was adorable. A strong, handsome voice, and he put across the unglamorous vibe of his character while still being a leading man. Maybe this isn't such a tough balance, but he did it beautifully. The secondary couple was played by TV star Jane Krakowski and Broadway star Gavin Creel. In a show with many strong numbers, they gave the show its biggest boost in their song "Ilona."
Let me mention just one more performance: high school senior Nicholas Barasch played the delivery boy, Arpad.
I thought maybe his bright red hair was Feria #37, but every picture I find of him online has that same color, so either it's real or he's very loyal to Feria #37. He was puppyish and full of verve. Wouldn't it be great if he became a big deal?
Is it wrong to say that the set was one of the stars of the show? Bravo to set designer David Rockwell, it was heavenly. Colorful, cute, versatile, the perfect setting for this jewel of a show. It elicited applause from the audience a few times, which is so old-fashioned and inspiring to my dimples.