By Jennifer Kotila
DASSEL-COKATO, MN A story of two co-workers who dislike each other greatly, but fall in love with each other through secret correspondence, is the subject of this year’s Dassel-Cokato fall musical “She Loves me.”
The musical opens Friday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m., with performances Saturday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m.
Tickets will go on sale Thursday, Oct. 21, and can be purchased in the activities office at the high school, by calling (320) 286-4100 ext. 1811 or 1813, or at the door on the night of the performance.
“She Loves Me” with a book by Joe Masteroff, music by Jerry Bock, and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick is based on a 1930s Hungarian play “Parfumerie,” by Miklos Laszlo.
It originally opened on Broadway in 1963, and a revival of the musical returned to Broadway in 1993.
Audience members of all ages will likely recognize the storyline, as the play has had numerous film adaptations, including:
• “The Shop Around the Corner,” a 1940 MGM film starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan;
• “In the Good Old Summertime,” a 1949 film starring Judy Garland and Van Johnson; and
• “You’ve Got Mail,” a 1998 film starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
“The ageless and timeless qualities inherent in the story are evidenced by the number of times the original play has been re-worked and introduced to a contemporary audience,” noted director Bob Kampa.
Kampa selected this musical because he felt it was time to do a more traditional, romantic musical following “Godspell” and “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” he said.
“Also, I felt that the talent level of the returning students required material that might be a bit more challenging for them,” he added. “The cast is comprised of an interesting and exciting mix of experience levels.”
First-time high school drama program performers make up the entire ensemble cast, with the principal roles being filled by actors with varied levels of experience from first-time performers, to high school theatre veterans.
The two lead roles are played by actors with extensive high school and community theatre experience, Kampa said.
The musical features Georg Nowack and Amalia Balash, feuding co-workers carrying on a secret correspondence via letters addressed to “Dear Friend.”
Georg, played by Ryan Peterson, is a soft-spoken, shy, personable, capable manager of Maraczek’s Parfumerie, a store that sells cosmetics and perfumes.
Amalia, played by Alison Basney, is a determined, romantic young woman who becomes a sales clerk at the parfumerie.
Audience members will be held in suspense wondering whether the co-workers will discover the identity of “Dear Friend,” and realize their feelings for each other before it is too late, Kampa commented.
“I think that what is most appealing about this show is that its story is ageless and timeless,” Kampa said. “It is a simple, sweet, romantic story about the many entanglements of love.”
Other characters who help the story unfold include:
• Devin DeMarais as Keller, a detective;
• Jeanne Goepfert as the waitress, a dignified and demure employee of the Cafe Imperiale;
• Henry Von Ohlen as Arpad Laszlo, an untiring errand boy at the parfumerie;
• Connor Mankenberg as Mr. Maraczek, the genial, yet sometimes difficult, owner of the parfumerie;
• Isaac Olson as Ladislav Sipos, a veteran sales clerk at the parfumerie;
• Kara Thielsen as Ilona Ritter, a wise-cracking salesgirl at the parfumerie;
• and, Cody Ewald as Steven Kodaly, a dapper, shallow opportunist and sales clerk at the parfumerie.
The ensemble cast members are Michaela Bullivant, Natalie Dahlin, Samantha Schenk, Maddie Schut, Marit Thostenson, and Heather White.
“It’s unsentimental, romantic emotions never age,” said critic Frank Rich in his review of the 1993 revival of the musical. “As Georg and Amalia gradually overcome their cynicism and melt with affection, we melt too in spite of our own cynical 1993 instincts. ‘She Loves Me’ turns out to be one love affair that, against Broadway’s odds, has grown only deeper with time.”