I had the enormous pleasure of directing one of my favorite musicals, She Loves Me, last fall at Lipscomb University. Check out my directorial approach from the dramaturgy packet, excerpted below. The production team, cast, crew, and I had a fantastic time working on this show!
She Loves Me is a charming, unpretentious, and satisfyingly sweet show about romance, friendship, love, and vulnerability. In a world focused on aggression and cynicism, this musical offers simplicity and the chance to laugh. It also provides the opportunity to return to a time of respect, courtship, and the value of an honest day’s work. This jewel of a musical, however, is not saccharine to the point of a toothache. Darker personal dramas like Marazcek’s breakdown and the romantic leads’ deeply vulnerable moments hold the weight of the play, keeping it from floating into the ether. In the end, She Loves Me reminds us that true vulnerability takes courage, and that the people in our immediate lives are worthy of our attention and care.
The show’s setting is Budapest, Hungary in the 1930s. It’s almost the Budapest version of Much Ado about Nothing! While the Hungarian quality of the play sits mostly in people’s names, the play simply carries a romantic, vintage European quality. It’s quaint and other-worldly in the best of ways. It’s a comedic musical, but not a farce. These characters are funny in a truthful way. We should see a bit of ourselves in each of them (and like it). We all get the drudgery of daily life — this shop is busy and the work is repetitive. So how can we live more fully? We can learn from these characters to celebrate the small victories, cherish the memories, and express gratitude to others. The shop workers literally sing it every time a customer walks out the door.
There’s romance to this show. The lead characters fall in love through letters, even though they don’t know it’s each other! What a world. It’s hard in today’s age to navigate the realities of getting to know someone, much less to fall in love. Isn’t to be known what we all want? To be known in a deep way and loved for who we really are? The letters provide that opportunity for Georg and Amalia; they just have the impossible task of getting over each other in person.
Avoiding overwrought sentimentality and schtick, we will dive into a fast-paced, heightened, and truthfully comedic version of this production. The musical will be played moment-to-moment, as all great comedy must. Pauses will be earned, and heartfelt moments will be born out discovery. This musical waits for no man – we will have to stay on our toes to keep up!
I look forward to working on this show with our team. I have loved this musical since I was in college (Side note: I auditioned but did not get cast). I did summer stock theatre in Vermont right after that and, lo and behold, they did that production and I was cast in the ensemble. I loved every minute of it! There’s an energy around this show that is irresistible. I hope you’ll feel as entranced as I did. Directing this show has been a long dream of mine — thank you for making this happen. I’d write you each a love letter if I could.
Beki Baker, Director