Marriage, Take 1.

I have always believed that the musical I Do! I Do! would be a perfect Pasadena Playhouse musical*. There is a cast of two, and simple orchestration. The gods must have been listening. I just came back from seeing “I Do! I Do!” at the Pasadena Playhouse, part of their Marriage Musicals (the other is The Last 5 Years, which we’re seeing on July 29th). They did an absolutely perfect job.

For those unfamiliar with the story, I Do! I Do! tells the story of Michael and Agnes. It begins on their wedding day in the late 1890s, and traces their life together over a period of 50 years, until the day they leave their house to the next pair of newlyweds. In that time we watch them go through their wedding night jitters, raise a family, negotiate mid-life crises, quarrel, separate, reconcile and grow old together, all lovingly to the strains of a tuneful, charming score. It is based on the play The Four-Poster by Jan de Hartog, with Music by Harvey Schmidt, and Book and Lyrics by Tom Jones. I was pleased to see that the Playhouse used the 1996 Off-Broadway version of the show, which simplifies the orchestration to two pianos, and moves My Cup Runneth Over to the second act. [As a side note: the original Broadway version in the 1960s starred Mary Martin and Robert Preston, and had a full orchestra. The 1996 revival starred Karen Ziemba and David Garretson, and had two pianos. I much, much, much prefer the revival version–if you have to order one album, order that one.]

This production starred Julie Dixon Jackson (website by the lovely shutterbug93) as Agnes, and Tom Schmid (website by Tom Schmid) as Michael. I cannot say good enough things about these actors. It was clear they were enjoying themselves in their performances, and it came across in their acting and their singing. This is a fun show if the actors enjoy it (just like a real marriage!). Talking with Julie after the show confirmed it: they have fun with this show. Special kudos to Tom for nailing “It’s a Well Known Fact”, and for Julie for nailing “Flaming Agnes” and “What is a Women?” “Flaming Agnes” deserves additional kudos for the costume: Julie looked hot! The show was directed by Nick Degruccio, with scenic design by Tom Buderwitz, costume design by Jean-Pierre Dorleac, lighting design by Steven Young, sound design by Frederick W. Boot, musical direction by David O, and choreography by Lee Martino. You can find some production photos for the show on this page from the playhouse’s blog.

This was a delightful afternoon, made even better by being able to see shutterbug93. She arrived from tick… tick… Boom! two minutes before the show started. We spent time with her at intermission, and went with her backstage after the show to meet with Julie Dixon Jackson. This was our first time in 20 years of subscribing that we were backstage (although I seem to recall doing it once with NSS&F). This was an extra treat. After the show, we had dinner with shutterbug93 at a sushi joint around the corner, and we went home, while she went of to The Last 5 Years. The evening was also nice due to a find made at Cliff’s Books: a recording (on vinyl) of The Sap Of Life, the first off-broadway show by David Shire and Richard Maltby Jr.. The show is not well known, and has never been released on CD.

Next up on the theatre calendar: The Last 5 Years at the Pasadena Playhouse on July 29th; “The Music Man” at Cabrillo Music Theatre on August 5th; Curtains at the Ahmanson on August 26th, and Fences (starting Laurence Fishburne and Angela Basset) at the Pasadena Playhouse on Sept. 23rd. I thought about tickets for Lucky Stiff at the Fullerton Civic Light Opera, but we can only do a Sunday matinee on 7/23, and that’s not on Goldstar (only the 7pm performance). I also am thinking about tickets to Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in Orange County in early September, but that might not pan out either (it depends if Goldstar puts them up). We might see something on vacation, depending on what is in the Sacramento or S.F. Bay area on Goldstar. Is anyone aware of half-price ticket outlets for Sacramento, as Goldstar doesn’t cover that area?

* What else would be good Playhouse musicals? Baby (Maltby/Shire), which they are considering for next season. Ain’t Misbehavin’, if they could find the right talent. I’d love to see them bring back Mail. Brownstone (a cast of 5). I think I Sing! could also be interesting, but I think the language and subject matter would be too racy for Pasadena.