ASR Theater ~~ “She Loves Me” – Musical Theater With a Comic Touch at 6th St.

By Susan Dunn

If a musical set in a 1937 Hungarian perfume shop seems like a stretch for a good evening out, you might want to think again.

She Loves Me has all the elements of compelling characters, charming scenes, sonorous music that stays with you, and three storylines that meld together into a hit show and a staple in our musical repertoire. 6th Street Playhouse puts on a visually and musically compelling production that is receiving enthusiastic response in the GK Hardt Theatre.

… humor in almost every scene …

Three couples working in the Parfumerie spin the story, including shy and hardworking George (Lorenzo Alviso) and Amalia, a combative new hire (Molly Larson-Shine). The two bicker through their professional lives but are secretly lonely-hearts pen pals. 30ish and flirtatious Ilona (Julianne Bretan) is having an affair with the male attraction in the shop, suave and mellifluous Stephen Koday, (Drew Bolander). Finally, there is the unlikely couple of elderly and humorous Mr. Marachezek (Garet Waterhouse) and his young delivery boy Arpad, played with amazing finesse by 15-year-old Tyer Ono). Arpad turns our enthusiasm up to boil with his big moment in the show, singing “Try Me.”

“She Loves Me” cast at work. Photo credit: Eric Chazankin

The cast is augmented by an ensemble of ubiquitous shoppers who amuse us scene after scene with their various cosmetic issues and gift needs. They double as patrons and staff for the nightclub scene in which the pen pals, known to each other only as “Dear Friend,” will finally meet.

…see it, for the charm, music, captivating story & production values…

Gracing this production is an appealing set that takes us into the shop, and is flexible enough to transport us to a hospital room and a darkly mysterious nightclub. Director Emily Lynn Cornelius makes use of every opportunity to tweak our sense of humor using pratfalls, original and sometimes noisy props, exaggerated expressions, and actions which resound in laughter through the audience. She deftly varies the shoppers’ scenes which run the gamut of Christmas shopping madness at the play’s end, and feature one-off surprise moments.

“She Loves Me” shows thru Feb 25th at 6th St Playhouse. Photo: Eric Chazankin

The audience-rousing approach emphasizing humor in almost every scene, however, seems to come at the cost of a lack of subtle character development found in other productions.

To this reviewer, some actors were more physically expressive than others, notably Tyler Ono, who seems made to fall through the door when he is revealed as eavesdropping, and Julianne Bretan, who winningly commands all parts of the stage as she details her adventure with new beau Paul, an optometrist she met at the library. Sound design was OK in the miking of the singers, but this reviewer found the orchestra was occasionally too loud for a proper balance and support to the vocals.

Will you love She Loves Me? The plusses outweigh the few minuses in this production. Go see it for the charm, music, captivating story and production values. My prediction: you will love it.


Since arriving in California from New York in 1991, Susan Dunn has been on the executive boards of Hillbarn Theatre, Altarena Playhouse, Berkeley Playhouse, Virago Theatre and Island City Opera, where she is a development director and stage manager. An enthusiastic advocate for new productions and local playwrights, she is a voting member of the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle, and a recipient of a 2015 Alameda County Arts Leadership Award. Contact:

ProductionShe Loves Me
Book byJoe Masteroff
Directed byEmily Lynn Cornelius
Music byJerry Bock
Lyrics bySheldon Harnick
Producing Company6th Street Playhouse
Production DatesThru Feb 25th
Production Address6th Street Playhouse
52 W. 6th Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
Telephone (707) 523-4185
Tickets$29 to $51
Reviewer ScoreMax in each category is 5/5
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