Review: She Loves Me

CSU students conclude run of this entertaining and heartfelt musical

The interior of Maraczek’s Parfumerie, the main set of the show. Photo by Steve Wagner Photography

The latest show from Cleveland State University Theatre and Dance was She Loves Me, an “intimate and touching musical about mistaken identity, true love, and friendship,” based on the 1937 play titled “Parfumerie.”

Performed in the small Helen Theater, the show certainly was intimate with a limited audience. This, I believe to be the biggest disappointment of the show: it simply deserved a larger audience! The phenomenal performance was well deserving of its sold-out status, and the additional performance added is a testament to the production’s quality and the direction of Eugene Sumlin.

Set in Europe in the 1930s, characters Amalia (junior theatre major Claudia Cromley) and Georg (junior theatre major Jaren Thomas Hodgson), coworkers at the perfume shop Maraczek’s Parfumerie, don’t see eye to eye. They frequently squabble over work matters, but unknown to each other, both are corresponding with a mystery date from a “lonely hearts advertisement” in the newspaper. The mystery date is closer than they think, as is soon revealed to the audience-they are corresponding with each other!

Despite the small size of the theater, a rather large and impressive set filled the space. Transforming throughout the show, the set could be showing the shop’s exterior, interior, a restaurant, and more, through the use of a rotating center platform, extending stairs, and other such tricks. Changes were seamless and well-executed and added much to the performance. An orchestra sat above the stage, providing live music for the show.

Receiving and sending heartfelt love letters, Amalia and Georg’s deep connection contrasts their harsh interactions, until they arrange a date at a restaurant. Secondary to this plot are the stories of their other coworkers, including the charming clerk Steven Kodaly (junior biology pre-med major Aidan Bryson), his on-and-off love affair Ilona Ritter (senior education major Katelyn Zeitz), enthusiastic delivery boy Arpad (junior theater major Gabe Jones), and a not so innocent voice of reason Ladislav Sipos (senior theatre major Jonathan Clarke).

This nearly three-hour-long show allowed the cast to highlight their strengths, including the physical comedy of Hodgson and the vocal abilities of Cromley.

However, stealing the show was Tyler Milicic’s performance as the waiter, who absolutely nailed both comedy and vocals, making his scenes, set during Amalia and Georg’s ill-fated restaurant date, stand out from the rest of the performance. These scenes showed the full range of both the cast and show, going from the comedy of dancing waiters to the drama and tension of Amalia’s heartbreak in an instant.

Overall, I was extremely impressed with the performance, and look forward to what is next from this talented group of students.

The next show from Cleveland State Theatre & Dance will be the CSU Spring Dance Concert, March 25-26 at the Allen Theatre. You can find details on their website.