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The cast of She Loves Me performs the very popular play. The 1960s Broadway musical is returning to the Highland Art Theatre in Sydney Wednesday.
The cast of She Loves Me performs the very popular play. The 1960s Broadway musical is returning to the Highland Art Theatre in Sydney Wednesday. - Chris Walzak

The Highland Arts Theatre in Sydney is rolling out the red carpet for the return of last year’s hit holiday musical comedy, She Loves Me, a Broadway musical from the 1960s by the same writers as Fiddler on the Roof and Cabaret.

In the show, two co-workers each fall in love with anonymous pen pals through a letter-writing service called the Lonely Hearts Club. They claim to hate each other during day-to-day business at the shop but — spoiler alert — end up together.

Contributing to the seasonal timeliness, the musical takes place during the leadup to Christmas as people become frantic to finish their shopping.

The romantic comedy — with a book by Joe Masteroff, music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick — is based on a 1930s Hungarian play called Parfumerie, which has been adapted several times into films: The Shop Around the Corner, starring Jimmy Stewart; In the Good Old Summertime, starring Judy Garland; and the 1998 hit, You’ve Got Mail, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

Setting this stage adaptation apart, however, is the music.

“The score is one of the best Broadway golden age musical scores I’ve ever heard, from a composing team at the height of their craft,” said HAT artistic director Wesley J. Colford, who is directing and performing again in the holiday show, in a news release.

“The songs are so beautiful, yet are completely human and flow perfectly naturally from story and dialogue. Even better, they are absolutely hilarious.”

Most of the cast returns for this production with a few new additions, including Heather Kerr (Next to Normal, The Rocky Horror Show) as Ilona Ritter.

“It’s a very old-fashioned musical, but that definitely adds to the charm,” Colford said.

“It’s about ordinary people living their ordinary lives, yet the music elevates these seemingly mundane moments and offers each character the ability to become extraordinary. To me, it’s a metaphor for the potential we each have, every moment, to be extraordinary. We just have to take the leap.”

IF YOU GO:

She Loves Me runs Wednesday through Sunday, Nov. 21-25, at 8 p.m. at the Highland Arts Theatre, 40 Bentinck St. Tickets are $39 plus tax ($25 for students and youth 23 and under) and can be purchased at the box office (11 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday), by calling 902-565-3637, or by visiting highlandartstheatre.com. Tickets will also be available at the door starting one hour before performances, while they last.

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