The J-Town Playhouse Presents ‘She Loves Me’ at the AACI Theater

Based on the play Parfumerie by Miklos Laszlo, the story has been adapted many times for stage and screen over the years.

A scene from 'She Loves Me.' (photo credit: ITA ARBIT)
A scene from 'She Loves Me.'
(photo credit: ITA ARBIT)
The J-Town Playhouse is back with a new musical for the Jerusalem stage – She Loves Me. Set in 1930s Budapest, the show tells the story of two rival employees at a perfume store, who unbeknown to each of them, meet on paper through a Lonely Hearts Club and fall in love. When one finds out the true identity of the other, the real fun begins. Based on the play Parfumerie by Miklos Laszlo, the story has been adapted many times for stage and screen over the years. The Jerusalem Post sat down with director Aviella Trapido, to learn more about She Loves Me, which will run from through December 7.
How did J-Town Playhouse decide on ‘She Loves Me’ amid the many options of musicals out there?
One of the perks of being a co-producer for J-Town Playhouse’s theater program at the AACI Glassman Family Center, is the opportunity to put forward ideas for musicals on your wish list and She Loves Me has been one of those wishes on mine. I saw it as a child and it left its mark and I have performed the vivacious “Vanilla Ice Cream” song hundreds of times since then. The story is timeless, the charming music and witty, sometimes heartbreaking lyrics combined are, in my opinion, one of Bock and Harnick’s (of Fiddler on the Roof fame) best! But it’s also a bit more technical than just picking a show we like. We also have to apply for the rights and see what comes through. I put in requests for two of my favorite choices back in May of this year and She Loves Me came through. I like to think of this as karma. In the end, it turns out two other Jerusalem Theater companies also chose a Bock and Harnick musical for this winter, which is really wonderful. Beit Hillel is putting on Fiddler on the Roof and Encore! is putting on Rothschild and Sons.
Since ‘You’ve Got Mail’ was such a popular movie, it is safe to assume a good portion of the audience in attendance will have seen it. Was it a direct adaptation of ‘She Loves Me’?
She Loves Me is actually based on a play by Hungarian playwright Miklós László called Parfumerie, which was also the inspiration for the 1940s classic film Little Shop Around the Corner. It was later turned into a musical film starring Judy Garland and Charles Van Johnson, called The Good Old Summertime. She Loves Me premiered on Broadway in 1963 and You’ve Got Mail was another timely adaption of a classic story in the ‘90s. Many of these adaptations are now out of date in a way, but are actually still very relevant. We no longer have lonely hearts clubs or online chat rooms that require dial-up internet, but we do have platforms like J-Date and Tinder. People are still looking for love, braving blind dates and taking a chance on a stranger.
How has the process been going of putting this together – from casting to rehearsals?
Putting on a production is reminiscent of having a baby. It’s the conception that gets the production rolling. The seed is planted and you put all the things into place, attaining the rights, putting together a production team, directors, musicians, choreographers, visuals, PR, budgets, sets, costumes, props and then, of course, casting. Finding a perfect fit for every role. For me, that is always the most exciting and scary part. It’s a real labor of love and there is a lot of blood, sweat and tears. We had a great turnout at auditions and landed up with an incredibly talented cast, each of whom has taken his/her role and brought it to life in the most exciting, unique way. I enjoy every second of getting to know these characters and you will, too!
Do you have a favorite musical number or scene that you can share with us?
Wow! Very difficult to answer! I can think of several but if I have to choose, then I guess two pieces come to mind. The first is in Act One, a song called “Perspective” sung by our very talented Malcolm McElheney, who is playing the role of Ladislav Sipos, one of the shop sellers. This very real, brilliantly honest and somewhat pathetic piece is couched in a hilariously comical number where Ladislav explains to Georg – masterfully played by Shimi Herman – that, at the end of the day, we are all not so very significant so why worry about things like humiliation or bending to your superiors? But it soon becomes clear that his predilection to subjugation is motivated by a fear of losing his job and not being able to support his family, which is a very
relatable feeling.
The second number is sung by Amalia Balash, after believing that she has been stood up by her long-awaited date. The song is called “Dear Friend,” where Amalia expresses the anguish she feels at being left to sit alone in a cafe where she was expecting to meet the man she has fallen in love with through their letters. She pleads with him to please make things right and not break her heart. Who hasn’t experienced that? Performed beautifully by Avital Sykora, it’s difficult not to cry.
What can the Jerusalem audience expect from ‘She Loves Me’?
Come and enjoy an evening of beautiful music, brilliant acting and an all-round feel good show.
What do you hope the audience will walk away with; what are the core themes of the musical?
The show addresses the age-old dilemma of love. Everyone wants to be loved, cherished and respected. Everyone wants to be able to trust that things will turn out okay. For some of the characters it works out well, not so much for others – as in life. It might also remind us to keep an open mind when meeting someone new. First impressions are not always to be trusted and should we judge too quickly we could lose out on something great. And not only with love but also in life. As Ladislav says in Act One, “How do you know until you try?”
For more information on She Loves Me, or to purchase tickets: