Meet Amalia and Georg, who work as clerks in Maraczek’s Parfumerie – and aren’t exactly the best of friends. However, they have something in common. They both rapturously write to romantic pen pals. Despite the anonymity of their secret admirers, they live for the love letters that they exchange and the day they will finally meet. This wonderful love story has been the basis for the films The Shop around the Corner and You’ve Got Mail. The musical version – written by the authors of Fiddler on the Roof – has delighted audiences since its 1963 Broadway premiere and features a sparkling score that includes the now-classic songs ‘Ice Cream’ and ‘A Trip to the Library’.
Mark Umbers plays the role of Georg Nowack – Mark recently took time out to answer a few questions about She Loves Me.
Q: Was there anything specific that attracted you to this production?
Mark: It’s a wonderful role, but in a show that is very much an ensemble piece. No one person has to carry it which takes the pressure of all of us individually.
Q: What can you tell us about Georg and Amalia?
Mark: Both of them are idealists who have difficulty accepting the various absurdities of reality – and that applies to their work as much as their love lives. They both have ideas of what the perfect romantic partner should be, which makes it difficult to accept another human being with all their faults.
Q: Do you have a favourite song in the show?
Mark: ‘Grand Knowing You’ is very witty. And I get to listen to it off-stage which is always a bonus.
Q: What is at the heart of the show?
Mark: The heart of the show is the loneliness that all of us feel at one time or another. The single status of many of the characters is something everyone can relate to and which makes all the characters very easy to root for.
Q: She Loves Me premiered in 1963 on Broadway – what makes it last the test of time?
Mark: It’s totally timeless. The nightmare that is falling in love never gets old. Audiences really do have a special affection for this piece and always have done, especially in the States.
Q: Who should get along to see the show and why?
Mark: Anyone who has ever enjoyed a romantic comedy. The film was the basis for You’ve Got Mail, despite being set in 1930s Budapest. It’s most definitely a family piece and a festive one at that.
Mark Umbers returns to the Menier to play Georg Nowack. His previous work for the company is Merrily We Roll Along (also Harold Pinter Theatre) and Sweet Charity (also Theatre Royal Haymarket). His work for Chichester Festival Theatre includes The Browning Version (also Harold Pinter Theatre) and Funny Girl; The Glass Menagerie (Apollo Theatre), The Pirates of Penzance (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); and The Vortex (Donmar Warehouse); and for the National Theatre, Troilus and Cressida, The Merchant of Venice, Candide and My Fair Lady. His television work includes Home Fires, Eternal Law, Mistresses, The Turn of the Screw, Princes in the Tower, Harley Street, Blackbeard, The Merchant of Venice, Berkeley Square, Silent Witness, The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Student Prince; and for film, A Good Woman, Che (Part Two), These Foolish Things, Cassandra’s Dream, Color Me Kubrick and Love Is The Devil.
The show will be directed by Matthew White who returns to the Chocolate Factory where he previously directed Candide, Sweet Charity, Little Shop of Horrors and The Last Five Years. Scarlett Strallen returns to the Menier to play Amalia where she previously appeared as Cunegonde in Candide. Her other theatre work includes A Chorus Line (Palladium), Singin’ in the Rain (Palace Theatre) and Mary Poppins (West End & Broadway).
She Loves Me
Menier Chocolate Factory
53 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1RU
Press Night: 7th December at 8pm
25 November 2016 – 5 March 2017
Times: Tue – Sat 8pm, matinees Sat and Sun 3.30pm
NB Performance on 27 November, 4 December
No shows on 3, 11, 24, 25 December 2016 & 1 January 2017