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Madison Charles and Mason Homer shine in the adorable rom-com of a musical

Unspecified ‘situationships,’ toxic workplaces, suicide ideation — themes familiar, to some degree, to a majority of college students intimately familiar with messiness — are all dramatized in LPC’s spring musical, the delightful “She Loves Me.” 

LPC’s take on “Parfumerie”— the 1937 songless original by Hungarian playwright, Miklós László—precedes a succession of musically inclined Broadway adaptations rechristened as “She Loves Me.” With a book by Joe Masteroff, music by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, and direction from Dyan McBride, the show sufficiently charms. 

Sunday’s Actor’s Conservatory-led performance was theatrical equilibrium. The first show in the college’s ‘main stage theater’ since 2020, “She Loves Me” was an instance where music, set design, and counteracting lead thespians are uniformly on the level. The closing performance was nothing short of adorable. Or, imádnivaló, as they’d say in Hungarian.

The proscenium-esque space, with its open orchestra pit basement, had a little more than three-fourths of its 464 seats filled for Las Positas’ ultimate production of  “She Loves Me” on Sunday, March 24. Jed de Roza’s orchestra produced accompaniment with unwavering fidelity. Above, the stage was occupied by a near-successful box-set attempt at historical accuracy. 

Designed to approximate the interior of a cosmetic shop in 1930s Budapest, the set was dressed in floral ornamentation, “marble” accents, and perfume-containing glass cases. The fourth wall was framed by pink, flower-adorned, wood paneling — just a month late from Valentine’s Day. 

Inside the shop, on a particularly beautiful afternoon in pre-war Hungary, we met the musical’s main love interests: Amalia Balash, played by LPC sophomore Madison Charles, and Georg Nowack, through the talents of Mason Homer. Newly hired Amalia and longtime parfumerie-employee Georg exchange petty advances immediately — the age-old case of infatuation mistaken for contempt. At the same time, they’re each other’s anonymous, lonely hearts pen pal. The two-act play ends its second with converged continuums of their parallel relationships as adversarial-coworkers and devoted-confidants.

MADISON CHARLES, left, and MASON HOMER, right, play Amalia Balash and Georg Nowack, contentious coworkers unaware they are secret lovers. (Photos courtesy of @lpctheater)

Compared to the prior Sunday’s slightly confused execution, the closing show’s moving pieces were almost entirely in sync. 

In quality, Mason Homer’s wry delivery as Georg met Madison Charles’ colossal, Amalia-masquerading voice. Kailia Bimemiller’s half-baked glitz in Ilona Ritter matched the considerable second-string appeal of Kyle Davidian’s suave douche in the character Steven Kodaly. 

Homer’s refined physical comedy is exemplary, especially when confronted with the jester’s privilege of coworker and middle-aged father, Ladislav Sipos, played by William Burgess. The Georg and Ladislav duo peaks during numbers “Tonight at Eight,” and “Perspective,” and Homer’s subtle slapstick is epitomized during “Tango Tragique” and “Where is my Shoe?” The latter being a duet with Madison Charles added to its sonic achievement. The audience — a decidedly more varied demographic on the second Sunday, as the interspersed inclusion of youth joined a crowd replete with White elders — serenaded Charles’ range and vocal projection with several, separate rounds of resounding applause.

KALE YUNKER, center, dazzles as Arpad, a hopeful employee in the shop of Mr. Maraczek, played by Danny Georgiev, left. William Burgess, right, plays Ladislov Sipos. (Photo courtesy of @lpctheater)

Filling the gaps between Amalia and Georg’s inevitable union, serial cheater Steven Kodaly falls in and out of affairs with the boss’s wife and fellow store clerk, Ilona Ritter. His wife’s affair with Kodaly’s affair leaves store owner, Mr. Maraczek, played by Danny Georgiev, contemplating suicide. Maraczek’s failed attempt is mended, emotionally by the company of overly-eager delivery boy Arpad, or sophomore, Kale Yunker. Yunker’s energetic performance for “Try Me,” his solemn plea for a clerk job, was a highlight as he bound around Maraczek’s hospital room in knickers. 

“She Loves Me,” billed as a story of charming romance, could pass for a workplace sitcom—not so much in a modern sense, but a timeless reminder of the relations sprung from working retail. What this theater department achieved was three hours of feel-good. Of chuckles and warmth. Of surprisingly potent songs and pleasantly clunky dancing. The best kind of cheesiness. LPC’s theater buffs executed a live rom-com, from an era of satin gloves and tweed blazers, with the refinement of an elegant perfume box, and a spritz of amour.

Top photo: Mason Homer kisses Madison Charles. Their on-stage chemistry was a bright spot in “She Loves Me.” (Photo courtesy of @lpctheater)

Olivia Fitts is the News Editor and Opinions Editor for The Express. Follow her on X, formerly Twitter @OLIVIAFITTS2.

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