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A reviews round-up for She Loves Me at the Menier Chocolate Factory

Matthew White’s revival of 1963 Broadway musical She Loves Me opens to stellar reviews at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

Starring West End and Broadway star Scarlett Strallen as well as Mark Umbers, Katherine Kingsley, Les Dennis, Callum Howells and Dominic Tighe, this scinitilating revival is surely West End bound.

Based on Miklos Laszlo’s much-adapted play Parfumerie, She Loves Me tells of two warring shop assistants (Strallen & Umbers) in the perfume shop of Mr Maraczek (Les Dennis), who are secretly smitten via an anonymous lonely hearts column correspondence.

She Loves Me runs until 4 March 2017 at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

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REVIEWS ROUND-UP

STAR RATING

“Matthew White’s revival is a heartening treat this Christmas.”

“Scarlett Strallen can break your heart at Amalia’s idealistic ardour and make your mouth twitch with amusement at its mildly ludicrous aspects. The score gives her some great songs which are refreshingly honest about how the mind actually works.”

“A chamber piece of enormous charm, it reminds us that there was an era when writers of musicals knew that it was possible to be romantic and witty, sensitive and absurd all at the same time, giving the audience the exquisite mixed pleasure of listening with a fond smile on the lips and a lump in the throat. She Loves Me now feels like the antidote to the high-tech blockbuster: everything is on a human scale without any hint of grandiosity; the creators know that the essence of humour is seeing things in proportion.”

Paul Taylor – The Independent

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STAR RATING Evening Standard

“An early Christmas present of the best sort imaginable.

“Scarlett Strallen and Mark Umbers are beautifully cast as the sweet-voiced pair Amalia Balash and Georg Nowack. There’s terrific support from that fine comic actress Katherine Kingsley as their blond, buxom and romantically forlorn colleague Ilona, who has a winning way with the mordant one-liner.

This is surely bound for a West End transfer. ”

Fiona Mountford – Evening Standard

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STAR RATING The Daily Telegraph

“She Loves Me takes a while to seduce fully. The scene (beautifully realised by designer Paul Farnsworth) is a genteel shop-parade that soon revolves to form the bottle-lined interior of the store owned by ageing parfumier Mr Maraczek (a gruff Les Dennis).”

“There’s something incredibly timely about the work’s portrayal of the drudgery of the service culture – where customers are always right, and employees face arbitrary dismissal. In quite a profound way, belied by the light-hearted wit of the piece (book by Joe Masteroff), the show asks what are we after in love – something that takes on board our flaws and faults, or the idealised dream?”

“There’s not a weak link in the cast. Young Welsh actor Callum Howells is a grinning delight as the bright-eyed errand boy angling for promotion, while Katherine Kingsley is sensational as the blonde cockney bombshell counter-girl seething at her fickle in-store beau (Dominic Tighe). The musical accompaniment and singing are first-class, and what starts off looking like the unwanted parcel at the bottom of the tree winds up looking like gift-wrapped perfection.”

Dominic Maxwell – The Telegraph

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STAR RATING The Guardian

“It is hard to imagine a more beguiling staging of this macaroon musical: light and crisp and colourful.”

“Paul Farnsworth’s design twinkles exquisitely, as rich and fine as spun sugar: gilt, eau de nil and pink, with light glinting through rows of bottles. In the comic performance of the evening, Katherine Kingsley vamps in layers of scarlet. While her cad lover (nonchalantly powerful Dominic Tighe) flirts with a customer, she cuts a length of ribbon as if she were administering a vasectomy. Scarlett Strallen and Mark Umbers charm as the couple who move from awkwardness to adoration. High comedy and pathos are intertwined in a romantically themed restaurant where trays are dropped as often as kisses are exchanged.”

Susannah Clapp – The Guardian

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STAR RATING The Stage

“A scintillating and delightful revival.”

“Though it’s set in a Budapest parfumerie, director Matthew White ingeniously has the characters play the roles in British accents. So Georg Novack and Amalia Balish – the warring co-workers who find themselves unwittingly romancing each other by letter without realising it, could be characters right out of Coward. This effect is enhanced by Mark Umbers and Scarlett Strallen’s naturally uptight but sublimely sung performances. Katherine Kinglsey’s Ilona is a hilarious straight-talking cockney, and Callum Howell’s fresh-faced delivery worker Arpad is a Welshman.”

“Somehow it makes it all the more relatable and less of a period curiosity. But it is also played with exactly the right blend of sincerity and feeling; Les Dennis is heartbreaking as a cuckolded shopkeeper, while Alastair Brookshaw is quietly affecting as a man clinging insecurely to his job.”

“An exquisitely realised staging of a show that is musical theatre perfection.”

Mark Shenton – The Stage

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