‘I do! I do’ doest just fine in Globe’s new space
By Carol Davis
SAN DIEGO– When Patrick Page and Paige Davis stood at the top of the stairs looking across the theatre from one another singing the opening number in the inaugural performance of the Tom Jones (book and lyrics)/ Harvey Schmidt (music) musical, I Do! I Do! (They also wrote the Fantasticks) in the new Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre (formerly the Cassius Carter Center Stage) all I could think of was another time, another couple and another century in Anatevika, when Tevye and Golda were singing Do You Love Me? from Fiddler On The Roof.
Of course by the time the milkman, Tevye and his wife Golda got around to singing that number, they already had five girls and were struggling to eek out a living in repressed Russia under the Tsar (1905). I Do! I Do! based on the Jan de Hartog play The Four Poster is a little two-character romantic comedy that plays out over a period of 50 years from 1895 to 1945.
It all takes place just at the turn of the century when a woman’s role as wife was still rather (as she says tongue in cheek) subservient to her mate’s. This setting is about as far removed from Russia as one can imagine but one thing is certain no matter the time, the couples involved, the place or the social conditions the institution of wedded bliss will prevail and over the course of time doubts, anxieties and tiffs will continue to confront.
What makes this somewhat outdated valentine so endearing is that the actors playing He and She, Patrick Page (Michael) and Paige Davis (Agnes) are married in real life so the chemistry between the two is perfectly charming. And, someone in the audience will be able to identify with at least one blip in this made for prime time couple’s marriage.
Page, who you might remember has been seen on the Globe stages over the years; just recently giving us an outstanding performance of Cyrano de Bergerac (by Edmond Rostand) in this summer’s Shakespeare Festival Season, is a multi talented actor whose presence lights up any stage.
His wife Paige Davis has Broadway credits racked up from her roles as Roxie Hart in the musical Chicago to the National Broadway Tour of Charity Hope Valentine in Sweet Charity just to name a couple. She too is oozing with charm. It’s a perfect fit, like a ‘hand in a glove, as I’m sure they will attest and as was witnessed on this opening night performance.
I Do! I Do! sweeps an arc in a series of vignettes about the fifty-year marriage between Michael and Agnes from their wedding night to their old age, highlighting their significant ups and downs, trials and tribulations in their marital journey. It is reminiscent of a time of innocence to a time just approaching self-determination with the help of eighteen musical numbers that assist in the storytelling. “My Cup Runneth Over,” “The Honeymoon Is Over,” “Flaming Agnes” and “When The Kids Get Married” are but some of the more recognizable tunes heard.
It’s difficult to fault this production just because the material is outdated. If one can overlook the gender discrepancies (Marriage Is Between an Man and a Woman) and the pompous attitudes of Michael (A Well Known Fact) who definitely thinks Agnes is, well. just a woman who can’t balance the checkbook because she spends more than is in the bank (wink/wink) or that a woman’s place is to stay in the background. what’s left is sugar and spice and everything nice and that includes the rest of the package.
The new ‘White Theatre’ is a state of the art 250-seat theatre in the round (similar to the old Carter), with a modern lobby (dedicated to and contributed by the Viterbi Family) and bathrooms (the old theatre didn’t have bathroom facilities in the building), “a fully trapped stage state of the art acoustics, two stage level entrance, plush seating and complete access for patrons with disabilities”. The Facility also includes dressing rooms and a green room (named in honor of capital campaign donor Alan Benaroya) for the Globe’s three theatres.
It’s always exciting to be part of something new and this new campus at the Old Globe is an eye catcher even as seen in between the raindrops. Equally important and exciting is the flavor. Director Richard Jay-Alexander and his two stars leave a scrumptious taste and after glow at production’s end.
Both Davis and Page are just as engaging, captivating and smooth together as can be. Page, whose voice is deep and resonant and whose debonair look is enough to catch any woman’s breath. brought smiles to his easy and light performance. Paige is the perfect companion to Page’s otherwise masculine sex appeal. She is feminine, lovely to look at but with a strong determination when pushed. Her voice is pleasing and convincing as her moods change from loving wife (“Something Has Happened”) to frustrated companion (“What Is A Woman”) to concerned yet loving mother.
Both were able to maneuver around the central, not named character, a four-poster bed set right in the middle of the stage (Ralph Funicello) and surrounded by all the other props needed to tell the story of their fifty years history together. Charlotte Devaux’s costumes, especially the antique wedding gown and off the wall hat Agnes blows the family budget on are eye catchers. Chris Rynne’s lighting captures the mood; James Kinney’s choreography is simple enough to keep the two from stumbling over the props and Ben Toth’s (on Piano with Tim Christensen on Bass) musical direction kept the show’s pace moving all the time.
Recently I attended a media event at the Old Globe Theatre for the unveiling of the newly redesigned campus now to be called The Conrad Prebys Theatre Center. You can’t miss the huge circular patterned stone work leading up to Copley Plaza and the Elizabethan shaped two storied building housing the beautiful new Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre next door to a modern updated 80 seat restaurant, Lady Carolyn’s Pub, with an outdoor seating deck.
According to Executive Producer Lou Spisto, “this is the lobby we never had”…
The Tony Award winning Old Globe will be celebrating its 75th birthday in this upcoming season. Now that the completion of this 75 million dollar capital campaign and construction project and 2.2 million dollar theatre which came in on time and on budget (LMN Architects of Seattle) the powers that be at the Globe have announced the January lineup that includes a world premiere of Duncan Sheik and Kyle Jarrow’s Whisper House in the Old Globe Theatre and Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers in the White Theatre.
When it comes to defining certain parts of our fair city, Balboa Park is usually referred to as ‘The Crown Jewel’ and the nations ‘largest urban cultural park’. In 1977 it was declared a National Historic Landmark. Named after the Spanish explorer Vasco Núñeuz de Balboa, it was placed in reserve in 1868. On any given day thousands of visitors and locals traipse through the park for as many reasons. This new campus complex at the entrance to the Park is the ‘Jewel’ within the ‘Crown Jewel’.
I Do! I Do! is well worth the trip to Balboa Park for more than one reason but mostly to see these two talented and charming Broadway stars doing what they do best, entertaining.
I Do! I Do! continues through Dec. 20th. Hurry!
Davis may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org