Christmas meme
"Gloria" - Vivaldi

"She Loves Me" - 1978 BBC production with Robin Ellis and Gemma Craven

She Loves Me, by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock, is oneSheLovesMe1 of my all time favorite musicals.  It's the story of two romantic pen pals who, without knowing it, end up working together and can't stand each other in person.  You know what happens.  Miklos Laszlo's original play, Parfumerie, has been retold as The Shop Around the Corner (James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan), In the Good Old Summertime (Judy Garland and Van Johnson), and You've Got Mail (Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan).  Although I've enjoyed the others, particularly The Shop Around the Corner, She Loves Me is, by far, my favorite.

SheLovesMe2It's an unusual musical.  There are no large, show-stopping numbers, and only one chorus number.  It's a more personal, intimate musical and very charming.  There are some songs that I love in  here because of their melodies, words, and how they advance the story - for instance:  the way No More Candy changes the plot, Amalia's hope contrasted with Ilona's cynicism in I Don't Know His Name (pictured right), the pompous importance of A Romantic Atmosphere, Amalia's (pictured above) confusion in Ice Cream, and the gradually increasing frantic-ness of 12 Days to Christmas.  Unlike the songs in many musicals, which could be (and often are) re-used in other musicals, none of these songs are generic.  They all have their place in the musical, and they couldn't really be switched.

Although we've also seen a student production of She Loves Me, many years ago, at NC State, my introduction to the musical was the 1978, BBC production.  I had enjoyed both seasons of Poldark, with Robin Ellis, so I happily watched this new production when it came on TV that December.  In it, Gemma Craven is adorable as Amalia, Robin Ellis is excellent as Georg, and the other members of the cast are just right for their parts.   She Loves Me immediately became a holiday favorite of mine when it was broadcast for two or three years, and then it became a memory since it was never rebroadcast or sold on VHS. 

We watch various Christmas shows each year, but I watch this one every year.  It's now occasionally available online, and it has been posted, in parts, on YouTube.  It's a bit blurry, but you'll forget that as you get absorbed in the characters.  Here's the beginning, to get you started, and then there are links to the other parts (I can't put videos for all the parts on here because it would take forever to load my blog):



  • The original, 1963, production starred Barbara Cook as Amalia and Daniel Massey as Georg.  Jack Cassidy won a Tony for playing Kodaly.  The musical was nominated for a Tony, but didn't win.  The next year, Harnick and Bock won the Tony for best composer and lyricist for Fiddler on the Roof.
  • Rita Moreno played Ilona in the 1964, West End production.
  • In 1977, an off-Broadway concert version starred Madeline Kahn as Amalia, Barry Bostwick as Georg, and Rita Moreno as Ilona.
  • The 1993 production starred Judy Kuhn as Amalia, Boyd Gaines (who won a Tony) as Georg, and Howard McGillin as Kodaly.
  • Boyd Gaines also won a Tony for Contact.  In that show, one of his roles was the stumbling suitor in a dance I posted as one of my former Friday Fun Songs - Simply Irresistible.
  • Judy Kuhn played Cosette in Les Misérables on Broadway, and, among many other things, was the singing voice for Disney's Pocahontas
  • Howard McGillin and Judy Kuhn also both performed in the Broadway musical, The Mystery of Edwin Drood (another one of my favorites). 
  • Howard McGillin holds the record for most performances as the Phantom of the Opera (2,544 performances).
  • The 1994 West End production starred Ruthie Henshall (who won a Laurence Olivier award) as Amalia. 



I knew Cassidy played Kodaly, but I had no idea Rita Moreno played Ilona. That would be perfect. And the two of them together...

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