THEATRE ? On theatre

In the age of overblown blockbusters, She Loves Me comes as a breath of fresh air. It's the delicate tale of two shop assistants who hate each other, correspond with one another as unknown pen-pals and. . . well, you can guess the rest. But whoever went to a musical for the plot?

She Loves Me (1963) is the perfect example of the musicals 'they just don't write anymore'. No monster stage effects, no hydraulics, just a tiny chorus, a light touch and a terrific score. Of course, eschewing spectacle for small-scale virtues doesn't guarantee sucess. (Witness the justly neglected First Impressions, the musical of (wait for it) Pride and Prejudice which came and went in 1959.)

This is a witty, intimate piece with musical integrity. During try-outs, Jack Cassidy stopped the show every night with a song about a chemist's shop, but Hal Prince replaced it: it was not sufficiently in character. (Not always a producer's top priority).

The London revival stars Ruthie Henshall (right) who steps into the shoes of the legendary Barbara Cook. Smart casting. Henshall, who shot to fame in Crazy for You, looks set fair to have audiences revelling in this little gem of a show. Crisp lyrics, a strong score (there are 23 musical numbers) isn't this what musicals should be about?

'She Loves Me' opens tonight at the Savoy Theatre (071-836 8888)

(Photograph omitted)

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