Kelly Gallagher ‘22
“When I first explained the plot of “She Loves Me” to my parents, I mentioned that every person who comes to see the production will leave the theatre with a big smile on their face,” Grace Acquilano ‘22 told “The Spire.” Acquilano proved to be right—audiences met the curtain call of last weekend’s productions of the rom-com musical with standing ovations. Directed by Meaghan Deiter, “She Loves Me” is a heartfelt and hilarious production you’re sure to fall for.
“She Loves Me” quickly captivates your attention. Each sentence sparkles with wit and heart, inviting you deeper into the world of the story. The music sweeps you straight into the characters’ emotional space, and the delightful dance sequences are heightened by a few fun surprises. The plot focuses on the romantic leads, Georg Nowack and Amalia Balash, who endlessly clash at the parfumerie where they work without any idea that they’ve been exchanging anonymous love letters with each other. Yet each one of the principal characters has his or her moment to shine, giving you the sense of being immersed in a vibrant, connected community.
Acquilano, a Theatre and English double major, credits her character Ilona Ritter with reminding her why she loves to perform in theatre. As seriously as she takes her craft, Aquilano says the production also “served as a crucial reminder that I do this because it is fun and something that I thoroughly enjoy.” Acquilano describes Ilona as “a bubbly, sweet, and worldly middle-aged woman (though she doesn’t like to admit that) who has had her fair share of boy troubles.” She tolerates her partner’s infidelity, but through watching her coworker Amalia’s genuine connection with her own love interest, she “reaches a turning point in the musical by honoring her self-worth.”
The warm friendships between characters such as Ilona and Amalia vividly bring the play to life. As Acquilano puts it, “The musical reminds us that our friends and coworkers can become our second families in many ways. All of the clerks in Maraczek’s parfumerie genuinely enjoy working with one another.” She believes that many students will enjoy this relatable aspect of the play, because of their own experiences forming “a ‘second family’” while at college.
Of course, one of the most compelling relationships in the musical is the irresistible romance between Amalia and Georg. Sadie O’Conor ‘22, a Music and English double major, plays Amalia, whom she describes as both a “shy, awkward, genuine person” and “a real firecracker.” The story finds her “searching and fighting for the kind of life and love she has read about,” refusing to settle for less.
O’Conor told “The Spire” she loves her role “because it allows me to use all the skills I try to build as a performer.” She described the music as “a joy to sing,” and she’s embraced the challenge of exploring the emotional range Amalia experiences. “We see her at her smartest, sharpest, most vulnerable, most chaotic, most beautiful.” O’Conor explained that much of the show hinges on Amalia’s journey, raising the questions “of whether you can fall in love with someone you’ve never seen, and whether or not you can learn to love someone you’ve sworn that you hate.”
Both Acquilano and O’Conor found that they channel themselves through their characters. O’Conor remarked that “there is a lot of myself in Amalia now, and I keep finding new layers for her as I go deeper and farther with letting myself be free.” Acquilano’s experience was similar, and she reflected that, “I have never felt more like myself on stage.” She identified singing “A Trip to the Library” with Ryan Clouse ‘22 as one of her favorite moments in the show, stating that “throughout the whole song, all I can think is, ‘This is so much fun, and please don’t let it end….’”
Don’t miss the final three performances of “She Loves Me” in Fenwick Theatre, taking place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and concluding with a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee. Tickets sold out swiftly last weekend, so you won’t want to wait to claim your seat! Visit hctheatreanddance.eventbrite.com online to view availability and purchase your tickets.