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Reviewed by Tony Annicone, April 12, 2002

The Pawtucket Community Players 300th show is the seldom done, musical,
"She Loves Me". Written in the 1960's, it is a 3 hour show with many set
changes and musical numbers. The show takes place in a perfume shop in
Hungary in 1930 and the characters live in a world of love and longing. The
two leads are pen pals who even though they have never met, are deeply in
love due to their love letters but despise each other in real life. Two of
the other clerks are supposedly in love, a meek clerk stands up for what he
thinks is right, an errand boy becomes an adult overnight and the owner of
the shop learns a lesson about life from them. Director Erika Koch takes her
whole 17 member cast on a joyful journey, making it an entertaining 3 hours
filled with excellent acting, singing and dancing.


     Erika Koch is a superb director who is meticulous about every single
detail in her show. Not only does she direct, but she cleverly, stages all
the musical numbers, too. From the set, to the costumes, to the blocking of
the numerous scenes, this is a show with high energy and the necessary talent
to pull it off. Erika creates many beautiful picture postcard moments and
creates the correct staging to keep these scenes flowing seamlessly. Brava on
a job well done. (Erika also does the costumes for her show, using many
beautiful 1930 style clothing.)


     She is aided in this huge task by a well organized staff and crew headed
by the  stage managing talents of Vinny Lupino. The musical direction is
handled by Joe Carvalho who makes the soloists in the waltzes and tangoes
soar, the violionist, Amy Francisco who adds the needed depth to the score
and the percussionist, Ken DiBiasio who blended into the music without
overpowering the vocalists. Erika's splendid set of perfume shop, inside and
out, an upscale restaurant and a lady's bedroom is designed by her husband
and producer, Brian Mulvey and is constructed by master carpenter, Victor S.
Turenne. The intricate props in the perfume shop are created by the talented,
Michele Pinault and the lighting design is by the creative, young, Robert
Ferland. Each of these elements add up to a well, executed performance.


     Playing the leads in this muscial are Mary Beth Kim as Amalia and Tom
Gleadow as Georg. She possesses a gorgeous, soprano voice and sells all her
numbers from the feisty ones to the poignant ones especially her "Dear
Friend" number where she bemoans the loss of her true love. Mary Beth adds a
backbone to ingenue role and she and Tom show a lot of chemistry in their
scenes together. Veteran actor, Tom Gleadow is at home on the stage in any
role, he tackles and this one is no exception. He plays the clerk who longs
to be loved by the woman of his dreams, never realizing, she has been in
front of him all along. Tom also delivers his numbers with a strong, baritone
voice and does a great job in the title song which he dances to with his
umbrella, reminding you of "Singing In The Rain" without the rain on stage.
     The secondary roles are played by Stacey Geer as Ilona and Donald Blais
as Kodaly. They are supposed to be in love with each other but Kodaly is
really a womanizer. Stacey really shines in this role, showing how her
character yearns for a loving relationship at last. She shows her strong
vocal prowess in the "I Resolve" song and her comic touch in "A Trip to the
Library" where she finds true love at last with an optometrist. Donald plays
the vain cad of the show very well. As the slick and smarmy, Kodaly, he uses
his powerful, tenor voice to captivate the audience in his "Ilona" song while
trying to seduce his fellow clerk and his not so graceful exit number, "Grand
Knowing You".


     Dan Gerstenlauer plays the shy clerk, Sipos who proves to be a good
friend to Georg, saving him from being fired and showing him how to have
"Perspective" on things in the shop. He handles his role with ease and
interacts very well with his fellow performers. The youngest cast member is
Jonathan Olivera who plays Arpad, the delivery boy. This young man shows his
acting and singing talent throughout, holding his own with his elder peers.
Jonathan makes the transition from errand boy to clerk very believeable and
sells his boss on making him a clerk in the "Try Me" song, showing him how he
can sell the perfumes to customers. The seemingly hard hearted boss, Maraczek
is played by veteran actor, Chuck Reifler. He shows the different layers of
this man in his portrayal, giving him the depth needed to show his softer
side in the second act. Chuck's character remembers his youthful days and
finally realizes it is better to live in the present not the past.


     In one of the funniest scenes in his show, John Moniz steals the
spotlight while portraying a bossy, waiter. His restaurant is where lovers
meet and they must behave accordingly. John badgers the clumsy busboy played
by Brian Mulvey. John also shows his haughty behavior in his "A Romantic
Atmosphere" song with the chorus.(John's fantastic tenor voice sells this
number beautifully.) Rounding out the  talented cast and playing various
roles are Steve Morris, who plays a detective in a very serious scene, Carol
Varden, who plays a customer who buys a music box after she is insulted about
her weight, Laura Ash-Sulger, James Clements, Sr., Lori Dawson, Pam Jackson,
Christy McCarthy and Lanny Slusher.

 So for a look at the way a three hour
show can be done and enjoyed, go see "She Loves Me', you won't be
disappointed. Reservations are required . Call  (401) 726-6860.


SHE LOVES ME till 28 April / The Community Players / Jenks Jr. High
Auditorium/ Division Street, Pawtucket, Rhode Island