“She Loves Me” is a third adaptation of the Hungarian playwright Miklós Lászlo’s 1936 stage play “Parfumerie.” Its age suggests that it might be a ho-hum experience, but there is a quaint charm in this older “Miss Lonelyhearts” tale.
Add to that charm the immense team-building skills of a new director in town, Meghan Eldred-Woolsey. Riverwalk theatre’s production of “She Loves Me” crackles and sizzles with crisp musical elocutions, and clever choreographies, to say nothing (yet) of set design or costuming.
Eldred - Woolsey is in her 11th year of teaching choir in DeWitt schools and is also the artistic director of Sistrum — a Lansing women’s chorus. She has used her skills to take the elderly storyline of “She Loves Me” and whipped it up into a light and frothy confection; a cascading kaleidoscope of stellar performances by the multiple members of the cast.
Chief among them, in a featured role as a mere waiter, is Edric Haleen. He certainly steals his portion of the show both frantically and frenetically, as he flits and flies across a stage full of cabaret tables. At one point, on-stage patrons of the café his character works at leap up, and join him to perform a whirling dervish.
Not to be outdone, supporting actress Sarah Hayner, as Ilona Ritter, belts out several exotic numbers. She acts, she sings, she dances, she shimmers, she does the splits.
Could a director ask for more? How about Kyle Harwood’s song and dance in the role of perfume-box clerk Ladislav Sipos, or maybe Isaac Orr, as the bicycle messenger Arpad Laszlo — who also demonstrates that, hey, he too can do the splits.
The return to the Riverwalk stage of forever young Bill Henson as Mr. Maraczek, owner of the “Parfumerie,” is a special moment. He’s still got a lyrical tenor voice and shows it off in this role. Adam Woolsey’s signature solo of “She Loves Me” in which he channels his inner Gene Kelly doesn’t hurt the production one bit.
Costume designer Laura Croff has assembled a team of co-designers and assistants that reflects exceedingly well the 1930s era of the play. Kris Maier, Ashley Hampton, Chanae Houska and Anna Maier round out that team. Well done.
Bob Nees is back with a clever insideout box of a set design that begins outside the parfumerie. Most notably a massive entrance door that opens to reveal some of the complexities of such a store. The quick and seemingly effortless efforts of the running crew and ensemble players intersect well with each scene change.
But by far, the glue that holds this production together is the musical score, performed by an eight-person group of talented musicians, orchestrated by John Dale Smith, who doubles as the master of the keyboard.
In the end, love prevails against all. Kelly Lofton in the love-interest role of Amalia Balash is sufficiently convinced that Adam Woolsey’s George Nowack is the one.
“She Loves Me” Sept. 21-24
Thurs. 7 p.m.; Fri.,-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat.,-Sun., 2 p.m. $24/$22 Senior, Student, Military Riverwalk Theatre 228 Museum Drive, Lansing (517) 482-5700 riverwalktheatre.com