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DC Theater Review: Signature’s “She Loves Me” is whiff of delight
She Loves Me (★★★★☆) is but one of many pleasures to behold in director Matthew Gardiner’s sprightly, delightful trip to that fabled shop around the corner.Miklós László’s 1937 play Parfumerie first established the venerable love story between contentious Hungarian shop clerks Georg and Amalia, spinning a romantic confection so sweet, it’s been revived, adapted, and reinvented in forms from film to this beloved musical-comedy, originally produced on Broadway in 1963.The snappy book by Joe Masteroff has held up well, and, while the waltzing score, with music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, can seem a tad old-fashioned, the songs shine like gems when placed in their most advantageous setting.Gardiner and company have done plenty to create that proper atmosphere, starting with Lee Savage’s set, which opens like a music box to reveal the pristine, pastel-pretty shop floor of Maraczek’s Parfumerie.Reconfiguring like some happy-go-lucky Transformer around a centerstage turntable, the set impresses while offering Gardiner and choreographer Kelly Crandall D’Amboise myriad opportunities to keep the actors and decor moving in amusing directions.Adam Honoré’s lighting design doesn’t always add as helpfully to the scenery, but contributes beautifully to standout numbers like “A Romantic Atmosphere” and “Dear Friend.” It’s the performances, though, that light up every scene.Ali Ewoldt’s demure yet daring Amalia Balash bubbles with charm and nervous energy, unaware she’s engaged in a pen-pal romance with the one man she leasts gets along with in real life, fellow parfumerie clerk Georg Nowack, played a hint too gruffly by Deven Kolluri.The pair sing wonderfully, solo and in tandem, but the show’s most successful duet