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Tuesday, July 17 Entertainment

Romantic comedy ‘She Loves Me’ at Bethlehem’s The Gary The Olivia Theater

Romantic comedies are great fun — especially when they involve two people who clearly are smitten, but somehow have no clue whatsoever about the identity of the person who has captured their heart.

“She Loves Me” is that kind of show. The musical, which premiered on Broadway in 1963, will be onstage at The Gary The Olivia Theater in Bethlehem, Saturday, July 28, through Sunday, Aug. 12.

“It’s a really great romantic comedy, and I am not alone in this thinking,” said Sally Camm, who is directing and choreographing the Clay & Wattles Theater Company production, which includes an eight-piece orchestra.

Camm said the premise of “She Loves Me” is similar to that of such films as “The Shop Around the Corner” (1940), and “In the Good Old Summertime” (1949), not to mention 1998’s “You’ve Got Mail,” which starred Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. All three were based on the 1937 play “Parfumerie” by Hungarian playwright Miklos Laszlo.

“So we know it’s a really good storyline and really popular,” she said. “That’s what (Jerry) Bock and (Sheldon) Harnick were thinking about when they tackled it (the music and lyrics) in 1960.” The book is by Joe Masteroff; the show was nominated for five Tony Awards.

More Information

The Gary The Olivia Theater, 249 Flanders Road, Bethlehem. Saturday, July 28-Sunday, Aug. 12. Friday, Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Sunday 2:30 p.m. $30, $25 seniors, $10, age 15 and younger. $35 all tickets opening night gala, includes wine and cheese reception at intermission. 203-273-5669, thegarytheolivia.com

Camm said one thing she especially enjoys about “She Loves Me” is that it’s not about movie stars or royalty; it’s about everyday people — clerks working in a small store, and the miscommunication between men and women. The story takes place in Budapest, Hungary, during the Great Depression.

“There was a lot of tension about losing your job, and we can relate to that today,” she said. “The premise is that two of these clerks answer a Lonely Hearts Ad in a newspaper and — unbeknownst to each other — and have been writing back and forth as pen pals, about their deep-seated desires, love and loss.

“Each thinks the other is the perfect partner for them, but when they work in the store they are actually fighting all the time. The story is how all of this gets reconciled.”

“She Loves Me” also explores how people are sometimes misjudged because of their outward appearance, and how we don’t always communicate our innermost feelings.

The show was written before Bock and Harnick tackled “Fiddler on the Roof.” Camm said, “It has wonderful, what I call dialogue-type songs, where they are advancing the plot through song, but also with interesting rhythms and beautiful melodies.”

While there are two main characters, Monica Charline Brown as Amalia Balash, and Jonah Kramer as Arpad Laszlo, the musical is really an ensemble piece, including several interesting featured characters. “Everybody is really important, so you have to have a strong cast to carry it off, and that is what we’ve got,” Camm said. “There’s also lots of comedy.”

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Anyone who is a romantic will love this show, she said.

lkoonz@newstimes.com; Twitter: @LindaTKoonz