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Lewis Center for the Arts' Program in Theater & Music Theater presents "She Loves Me"

originally published: 03/23/2024

Lewis Center for the Arts

Seniors Madeleine LeBeau (left) as Amalia and Casey Beidel as Georg in rehearsal for "She Loves Me".  Photo by Jon Sweeney

(PRINCETON, NJ) -- The Lewis Center for the Arts' Program in Theater and Music Theater at Princeton University presents She Loves Me, the classic Broadway rom-com that tells the story of two co-workers who, unbeknownst to them, are secretly writing to each other through A Lonely Hearts Club. The production features Princeton seniors Casey Beidel and Madeleine LeBeau and is co-directed by juniors Faith Wangermann and Alison Silldorff. Performances are March 29 and 30 and April 5 and 6 at 8:00pm in the Wallace Theater at Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus.

Open to the public, tickets are $12 in advance of show dates, $17 purchased the day of performances at the box office, and $10 for students, available through University Ticketing. The Wallace Theater is fully accessible with an assistive listening system and the April 5 performance will be open captioned. Guests in need of other access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at at least one week prior to the event date.

Seniors Beidel, who plays Georg, and LeBeau, who portrays Amalia, proposed the musical as their senior independent work in pursuit of a certificate (similar to a minor) in the Program in Theater and Music Theater. Their class was significantly impacted by the COVID pandemic, completing their senior year of high school, and beginning their time at Princeton, virtually. The seniors proposed an updated portrayal of She Loves Me that would not only speak to the unique “virtual” realities of their experience but would also transform this golden-age Broadway musical into a modern commentary on an increasingly online world. Through updated staging, settings, and pre-show interactions, the production’s team hopes to bring new life to this classic romantic comedy about “connection, hard work, and vanilla ice cream.”

Featuring music by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof) and book by Joe Masteroff (Cabaret)She Loves Me was nominated for five Tony Awards in 1964. The 1993 Broadway revival won the Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Musical, and the 1994 Critics Circle Award for Best MusicalBased on a play by Miklos Laszlo, the musical follows perfumery shop clerks, Amalia and Georg, who, more often than not, don't see eye to eye. After both respond to a "lonely hearts advertisement" in the newspaper, they now live for the love letters that they exchange, but the identity of their admirers remains unknown. The story has inspired many adaptations, including the film You've Got Mail starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.

LeBeau originated the production concept for this production of She Loves Me and serves as the creative director. Among the special features of this production, LeBeau created a website that “translates” the nostalgic terminology of the “lonely hearts club” to today’s virtual, mobile, app-driven interactions that are more familiar to today’s audience members. Pre-show, the audience is invited to step into Amalia and Georg’s world and engage in making real-time anonymous friend connections in the “Lonely Hearts Club.” The website also features a modern Maraczek Parfumerie online store, where audience members can familiarize themselves with Maraczek’s products and learn more about the “lives” of Maraczek’s employees and customers. And because privacy is sometimes in short supply in the online world, this production adds projections to bring the audience into the private messages of Georg and Amalia.

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Beidel is a sociology major from Rutherford, New Jersey, pursuing certificates in American studies, music theater, and gender and sexuality studies. He was recently announced as a recipient of the 2024 Moses Taylor Pyne Honor Prize, the highest general distinction conferred by Princeton on an undergraduate. On campus, he has performed with the Triangle Club in All Underdogs Go To Heaven and Singin’ in the Train, and he served as the president and business manager of Princeton’s oldest a cappella group, the Nassoons. At the Lewis Center, he served as assistant stage manager and dramaturg for Unbecoming in the fall of 2020. Beidel will be continuing his education in law school in the fall.

LeBeau is a history major from Chantilly, Virginia, pursuing certificates in Judaic studies, vocal performance, music theater, and theater. On campus, she is immersed in theater and performing arts, serving as the chair of the Theater Program’s Student Advisory Committee, the immediate past vice president of the Princeton Triangle Club, a writer for the Triangle Club, an executive board member of the Princeton University Players, and the prior president and music director of Koleinu, her a cappella group. She also currently serves as the performance director and student conductor for the Princeton Playhouse Choir. Among other appearances, LeBeau has been featured in on-campus productions of Mostly, Sort of Happily Ever AfterFirst Daughters’ SuiteShip Happens – A Cruisical, and Something Rotten. She has been the primary service leader for Kesher, Princeton’s Reform Jewish community, throughout her time at Princeton and serves as a cantorial soloist at Har Sinai Temple in Pennington, New Jersey. LeBeau will be continuing her studies at Hebrew Union College to pursue a life in the cantorate.

The production is being co-directed by juniors Faith Wangermann, who is also choreographer, and Alison Silldorff, who also serves as associate music director.

The rest of the student cast includes Adam Bathurst, Radon Belarmino, Kavya Bhat, Kimberlynn Bjurstrom, Lucy Colwell, Charlotte Kunesh, Charlie Roth, George Tidmore, and Jay White.

Lewis Center Resident Music Director and Composer Vince di Mura is music director and Keating Helfrich Debelak is costume designer. Student members of the production team include Vincent Gerardi as set designer, Alex Slisher as lighting designer with Ariane Adcroft as assistant lighting designer, John Waller as projection designer, Chloe Webster as stage manager with Vivian Bui, Cynthia Jacobson and Tevin Singei as assistant stage managers, and Lev Ricanati as production coordinator. Faculty advisors on the production are Chesney Snow, Tess James, and Vivia Font.

She Loves Me is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI.

Visit the Lewis Center website to learn more about this event, the Lewis Center for the Arts, and the more than 100 public performances, exhibitions, readings, screenings, concerts, lectures, and special events presented by the Lewis Center each year, most of them free.

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