It’s a show full of moments. That sweet first kiss. The shy wonder of first intimacy. The bright delight of someone making you smile. Fear. Anger. And comfort that what you have is what was meant to be. “I Do! I Do!” on stage now at O’Connell & Company through May 6 celebrates these moments in a charming two-hander starring Mary Coppola Gjurich and Gregory Gjurich.
. . . a charming two-hander starring Mary Coppola Gjurich and Gregory Gjurich.
Real life Mr. and Mrs. Gjurich portray bride and groom Agnes and Michael in a story that spans 50 years of marriage, from their wedding night to the day they downsize. First staged in 1966 and still set as a 1895 to 1945 period piece, the musical version is based on the 1951 play called “The Four Poster” which originally starred another real life married couple Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn. The third star on the stage is the magnificent four poster bed: it’s a physical focal point and an important metaphor, too. A shared bed is unity and sharing in good times, and an object of avoidance when times are tough. And Agnes and Michael learn this on their journey.
Mary and Greg wear their roles well. In the opening scene, they’re both tender and tremulous in their first married kiss. She is appropriately outraged when her husband professes that “in a way, your youth is over” as they begin their timehop from newlyweds to silver-hairs. Michael is unabashedly enamored as he joyously sings “I Love My Wife.” Agnes is in awe with her wistful singing of “Something Has Happened” as she awaits the birth of their first child. If the story itself is showing its age, Mary and Greg raise their voices above this: their sound is rich and their interpretations of the Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt score is heartfelt and timeless. Their duet of this show’s most memorable song – “My Cup Runneth Over” is lovely and poignant. I almost wish director Bobby Cooke elevated this moment and gave it more spotlight.
Through the years, the young marrieds grow older and their imperfections unfold. The witty duet “Nobody’s Perfect” does a good, funny job of pointing out how irritating our little foibles are to each other. She’s always late and forgetting her gloves and bag. He chews in his sleep. There are brief, darker moments, too. Somewhere along the way he’s unfaithful. Yet they find their way back to each other and the marriage and life they began. It was vaguely disconcerting to watch Mary and Greg age onstage in character. This is where I prefer the magic of theatre: it was a hoot when Mary walked off stage only to emerge a few beats later in a late-stage pregnancy, but it was weird to watch Greg put a gray toupee on his head onstage. This took me out of the moment and just reminded me that I was watching a show.
If the four poster bed is the non-human star of the show, its co-star is the antique Lane hope chest at the foot of the bed. Its burled walnut elegance hides some of Agnes and Michael’s secrets. The pillow he detests, the chocolate he buys her that he expects her to share, and other marital artifacts gets chucked into the hope chest with that tacit “out of sight, out of mind” wish that all would be well if unpleasant things could just disappear. Set designer Paul Bostaph picked some lovely pieces to grace this simple staging. Pamela Snyder echoed this with gorgeous costumes, in particular Mary’s blue beaded black organza gown was a stunner.
Mother and son keyboardists Ian and Jacquie Scaduto did a straight up great job with the tunes: keeping it pure and unadulterated emphasized the sentiments. In the end, it’s the fine vocal chops on Mary and Greg Gjurich that keeps everyone engaged in this story, and reminds us that true love lasts a lifetime. Bravo.
Running Time: 2 Hours with a 15-minute intermission.
“I Do! I Do!”runs until May 6, 2018 and is presented at O’Connell & Company. For more information, click here.