Audiences Love "She Loves Me" at Cinnabar Theater

The house lights come up as a lovely gypsy violinist (Marin Symphony's Principal Violinist Peggy Brady) strolls across the stage, backed by a seductive clarinet in the shadows.  A storefront in 1930's Budapest comes into focus, as do the clerks who work there.  They musically muse about what they would do with a day off, while waiting for the boss to show up.  "She Loves Me", similar in style to an old-time classic operetta, has nearly as much singing as there is dialog, although the songs are too wordy to make a hit single.  No matter, as the lyrics are funny and the plot draw lots of laughs from the audience.

"She Loves Me", based on a 1937 play "Parfumerie" by Miklos Laszlo and book by Joe Masteroff, has a long and much-loved history of reincarnations.  The first movie made from the stage play starred James Stewart and was named "The Shop around the Corner."   It became the 1949 Judy Garland movie "In the Good Old Summertime", eventually being rewritten by Nora Ephron as "You've Got Mail" with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.  Its popularity is undeniable, but it's a testament to Director Elly Lichenstein and little Cinnabar Theater, on the hill north of the Petaluma Outlet Mall, that they have delivered such a high quality hit show. 

"She Loves Me", sold out on this evening, has been extended through Saturday, October 1st to accommodate the request for tickets.  No wonder, as there's so much talent here.  The large (20+) ensemble have authentic gestures, facial expressions, and deliver their lines with excellent diction, whether singing or speaking.  This is much appreciated as the actors are not microphoned and the Cinnabar ceiling is quite high. 

The romantic leads, Roy Eikleberry and Sheila Willey, have clear and on-key voices and are truly believable in their roles.  Playing the shop owner is Michael Fontaine, Managing Director of the 6th Street Playhouse, who laughs that he is "finally a senior playing a senior."  Cary Ann Rosko and James Pfeiffer have fun with their roles as ex-lovers who are now warring clerks, while John Shillington rounds out the main characters as the stalwart friend.  Act II's George Arana brings down the house as the beleaguered head waiter.  And it would be remiss not to mention the scene-stealing delivery boy, bespectacled Frank Demma.  From his bicycle entry to his voice cracking on cue, this young man's antics are worth the price of admission.

Cinnabar's creative and cleverly designed sets, the work of Mark Robinson, has the storefront disappearing into the interior of the "Parfumerie" shop.  Julia Hunstein Kwitchoff outdoes herself with the show's gorgeous retro costuming, replete with the era's gloves, hats, shoes, and wide lapel suits.  The orchestra, under the excellent direction of Mary Chun, includes a baby grand piano, violin, cello, clarinet, and percussion by another Marin Symphony favorite, Kevin Neuhoff.  "She Loves Me" is truly a show audiences love.  Playing Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays until October 1st at Cinnabar Theater, 3333 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma.  For tickets go to or (707) 763-8920.