I fell in love with the original London production of the show in 1964 and have seen every subsequent UK revival. Although I have all the recordings, it was wonderful, however,to discover this version re-issued at a very affordable price. So I can now give copies away to my friends - and have! [The other recent purchase from this 'label' was the reissue of the 1959 original cast recording of Bob Merrill show Take Me Along which is also a joy].
Although almost a chamber musical compared with Harnick & Bock's next show Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me, too, deserves to be up there with Fiddler and the rest of the Broadway greats. Like Fiddler, this show also deals Eastern Europeans in crisis - albeit not persecuted like the people of Anatevka, although we are aware of the dark political clouds just over the horizon. Georg, Amalia and Ilona work in a perfume shop in Budapest during the depressed days of the 1930s, struggling to keep their jobs and maintain respectability. Unknown to each other, they are carrying out a pen-pal relationship which is becoming increasingly romantic, yet at work they are rivals and constantly bickering. If this all sounds familiar, it is because the book is based on a play Parfumerie by Miklós László.and the 1940 James Stewart film The Shop Around the Corner - also the basis for the 1949 Judy Garland musical film In the Good Old Summertime. As with Harnick & Bocks' other work, the score captures the spirit of time and place with occasional folksy hints of the music of the composer Zoltan Kodaly. Although there have been several enjoyable recordings of subsequent revivals, I still find this 1963 original with Barbara Cook and Daniel Massey the most completely satisfying.
Cook has always delighted her solo show audiences with the glorious Ice Cream and Dear Friend, yet the only song that, unjustly, acquired some sort of recognition at the time was the title song, where the orchestrations tell you it is a chilly winter's morning and give Georg's emotional discovery a thrilling urgency. But every number is totally charming and of top quality, and more importantly, drives the narrative along. Book musicals don't get much better than this!
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