Photos by John Dlugolecki

They like each other very much!
~ Observation made about reluctant couple Amalia Balash and Steven Kodaly                                                                                                                        

Photos by John Dlugolecki

She loves him! She loves him not! Will they ever get it together? Of course! That’s the necessary fiber needed root for a reluctant couple who are clearly in love with each other but won’t admit it. In screwball comedies like It Happened One Night with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert (1934, Columbia Pictures) and His Girl Friday starring Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant (1940, Columbia Pictures.) The formula doesn’t change. Boy meets girl, girl is agitated by boy, boy spits out insults, girl returns fire and war ensues.

Actors Claire Adams and Kevin Shewey, as Amalia Balash and George Nowack, brings back the funny and hilarity in this amusing romp about love in and out of the workplace.The musical stems from the 1937 play Parfumerie by Hungarian playwright Miklós László. It was adapted in the 1940 film The Shop Around the Corner starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan, again in 1949 as In the Good Old Summertime with Judy Garland and Van Johnson and also in 1998 with Oscar winner Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail.

It’s 1934 in Budapest, Hungary and the sales people at the exclusive perfume shop Maraczek are getting ready for business on a warm fall day in October. We meet the colorful staff. There is the playboy Steven Kodaly (loved Darren Bluestone). He believes himself to be suave and delectable eye candy that no woman could ignore. His co-worker Arpad Laszlo (Beau Brians was hella funny) is the delivery person always trying to impress the big boss Mr. Maraczek (Greg Martin) but it doesn’t work out too smoothly. Enter Amalia Balash. A sweet, feisty young woman looking for work. The men tell her the store isn’t hiring but she swoops in and steals a customer from one of the salesmen and convinces the customer to buy a feature item—a cigarette musical box. Mr. Maraczek is so impressed by her initiative he hires Amalia on the spot.

While Kodaly is happy to see a pretty face with a go-getter spirit, Nowack is not amused. He finds her bossy and unmanageable. Amalia feels the same way about Nowack. Perfect! However, they are both holding a well-guarded secret. They are corresponding to their significant pen pals, they don’t know they are writing to each other, on the low. They’ve been corresponding since October. As Christmas is around the corner, the nervous couple decide to finally meet. What a meeting!

As expected, they spar with their biting words and eloquent insults on each other’s personalities and demeanor. Their battle is entertaining to view from afar. In the meantime, Mr. Maraczek is having his own romantic problems. The wealthy owner believes that his faithful wife of many years is having an affair. He instructs Arpad to find out what is really going on. Arpad sees this as an opportunity to show the old man what he is capable of and hopefully will be promoted to sales clerk.

Everything is top notch in this fantastic show. From the costumes, where did costume designer Michael Mullen find those beautiful print dresses with matching hats and gloves and bags and pin striped suits?, to the functional store front, sending appreciative vibes toward scenic designer Stephen Gifford for a decorative and cozy set. Major props to director Cate Caplin who captured the love and sincerity of this wonderful show and evoking the joyous spirit of its predecessors. Well done!

She Loves Me plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2:30 pm. Special Saturday matinees on December 8th and 16th at 2:30 pm., at the David Schall Theatre, located at 1760 N. Gower St. 90028 (on the campus of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood) in Hollywood.

For tickets and reservations or call (323) 462-8460.