She Loves Me

» Posted by on Jan 5, 2017 in The Upstagers | Comments Off on She Loves Me

She Loves Me

Last summer, I said the best set we’ve had was from Into The Woods.  This summer, I feel we topped it with the set from She Loves Me.  Honestly, I had never heard of this show and was not familiar with any of the music.  I can tell you now that this little show, upon which a number of movies were based–including You’ve Got Mail–with various degrees of adherence to the story, is one of those gems that every theater group should produce.  The biggest challenge for casting is finding a solid soprano with the acting chops to match.  The character of Amalia Balash really is the featured performance.  However, much like Into The Woods, the entire cast should be strong.  Choreography is nearly non-existent in this show, which makes it ideal for groups with strong singer/actors but lacking in dance.

For us, however, the biggest challenge was designing and building the set.  When I saw the 2016 Broadway revival, I fell in love with that approach to the set.  However, they had millions of dollars, a large stage and a fully automated system to move the monstrous set.  I was determined to make a version of it on a very tight budget (a couple of thousand) and being 100% manual movement.  There was SO much detail I wanted to put into this set, but there simply wasn’t enough time, even with a few of us spending many days until 3am on it. As with last year’s musical, we tried things we’d never done before.  In this case, one was pulling canvas for massive two-story tall flats.  Another–a personal triumph for me–was designing and building a spiral staircase.  Our board absolutely refused to purchase a pre-manufactured metal-and-wood spiral staircase, voicing concerns of liability and, frankly, complete disbelief that it could be secured to a fully mobile section of scenery.  Regardless of the research I’d done and efforts to convince them it would be completely safe and secure, they denied the purchase.  Of course, they voiced no concern about me flying myself 10 feet over the stage during 9 To 5 earlier that year.  So, if they wouldn’t buy me one, I would build one.  And I built it in such a way that we were able to disassemble it and re-use it in future shows.

This show was gorgeous.  The music is amazing, the story is well-written, and a joy for just about any actor.  I loved this cast, which featured some of our core members as well as a number of newer members.  It was magical.  I knew when Joel Bacon agreed to direct it that the characters would be the strongest of any Upstagers show.  And it was tough, emotionally, to say goodbye to this show.  It was truly a labor of love, and I hope it was communicated in our performance.  What was meant to be our 2016 “small musical” turned out to be much bigger than our summer musical, in almost every way.