Go behind the scenes of She Loves Me with insights from the cast and production team. The critically-acclaimed Roundabout Theatre Company production of She Loves Me comes to GREAT PERFORMANCES, Friday, October 20 at 9PM (check local listings) as the opening presentation of PBS’s fall Broadway’s Best lineup.
[Instrumental music] Sheldon Harnick: She Loves Me is based on a film, The Shop around the Corner, wonderful film with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan.
Laura Benanti: But it was originally based on a play called Parfumerie.
[Instrumental music] Sheldon Harnick: There was a producer named Larry Kasha, and Larry had the rights to the the film The Shop Around the Corner and wanted to do a musical adaptation.
We wrote so much music that when we went on our out of town tryout, we found we had to cut about 45 minutes of music.
Everybody was constantly singing.
And still, She Loves Me is a show with a great deal of music.
Laura Benanti (in the show): He brought me ice cream, vanilla ice cream.
Sheldon Harnick: I do love vanilla ice cream.
And I think the reason I wrote the song was because our book writer Joe Masteroff mentioned it in the script, and I used it.
I''m glad that he hadn''t said chocolate ice cream, cause that''s harder to sing.
Laura Benanti (in the show): Vanilla ice cream!
Sheldon Harnick: The first production of She Loves Me back in 1963 was not successful.
We ran about 8 months, I think it lost its entire investment.
And those of us who wrote it loved it, the cast loved it, and we were all heartsick.
About a year later, we finally had a production of it someplace, and the cast wrote us a letter saying, We don''t know why this didn''t work on Broadway, our audiences love it.
And then through the years we kept getting letters.
Zachary Levi (in the show): Dear friend.
Sheldon Harnick: I think in the 90s the Roundabout Theater Company did a revival of it.
Scott Ellis directed it, and the reviews were love letters.
And the following year, we had 60 performances.
So suddenly the show become on of the shows people do.
And now here it is another 20 years later and Scott Ellis has directed it again.
Laura Benanti: Scott is so amazing because he''ll ask you a question, he''ll know the answer but he''ll let you figure it out and make you think you did it on your own.
So he works so well with actors, he''s really funny, he is incredibly smart and intuitive.
He just, he knows the show like the back of his hand.
Zachary Levi (in the show): I didn''t like her I didn''t like her I couldn''t stand her.
Zachary Levi: I play Georg Nowack, who''s the lead clerk.
He''s a good guy.
I mean he, you know, he likes his job, he likes the people he works with, he has a great relationship with his boss.
And all of that just starts becoming unraveled very quickly.
Partially because of Amalia Balash.
Laura Benanti (in the show): You have always resented me from the first day I came here when I made you lose that bet to Mr. Maraczek.
For 10 and 6 was it?! Laura Benanti: My take on her is that she''s a little bit harder on the outside than she is on the inside.
The Amalia we see with Georg is a little like pricklier and tougher than the Amalia she shows in her letters.
Laura Benanti (in the show): Until then, count the hours, oh I''m late for work!
Laura Benanti: I find that to be beautiful about her.
Also she''s a, you know, a modern woman.
In 1930s Budapest, it wasn''t common to be like a single woman looking a job and 35 years old and not married.
I really admire her pluck and her determination to support herself and find the right person, not just any person.
Gavin Creel (in the show): It''s been grand knowing you, grand knowing you, grand being your friend.
Gavin Creel: I play Steven Kodaly, who is quite possibly the most charming and most amazing character in the play.
No, he''s he''s a bit of a cad.
Gavin Creel (in the show): I do hope you''ve forgiven me about our little misunderstanding last night, I just can''t bare it when we quarrel.
Can you darling, truthfully?
Jane Krakowski (in the show): Go to hell.
Jane Krakowski: I play Ilona.
It''s a very sweet character.
I really have fallen in love with her.
Gavin Creel (in the show): Come with me, Ilona.
Jane Krakowski (in the show): No!
Warren Carlyle: The number Ilona was just a brilliant collaboration.
Jane Krakowski: We were rehearsing that number and we were slightly joking around.
He said, y''know, well then you''ll do the splits and I was like, Oh no, I can do the splits.
You wanna try the splits?
Warren Carlyle: It happened very naturally, I have to say.
There was no struggle, not even much conversation.
She just spun around and fell on the floor and then there we are.
Gavin Creel (in the show): Together!
Jane Krakowski: We nicknamed that 'Step Mama''s Still Got It.'
[Clapping] Sheldon Harnick: I think that what makes this revival special is David Rockwell''s set.
The building is so unusually handsome.
When the curtain goes up, you can practically hear a sigh from the audience.
Jane Krakowski: It really does feel like one of the characters in the show.
It really is part of all of us and it moves and dances and configures with all of us through the show.
I remember coming the first day to the theater.
I walked in and was blown away and I just said to myself, Oh we''re in this kind of show.
This is going to be beautiful.
Like it was just, it lifted me to a new place.
Laura Benanti: I think it is the most joyful production I''ve ever been a part of.
It is so funny, it''s deeply, like laugh out loud funny.
But it''s also very moving.
Zachary Levi: It''s a heartwarming, charming, delightful, romantic comedy musical with incredible costumes and incredible set and incredible score.
Jane Krakowski: My hat is really off to Jerry Bock and and Sheldon Harnick and Joe Masteroff.
They''ve really created a perfect little jewel box of a musical.
Gavin Creel: Everybody calls it the jewel box, the music box, this beautiful little piece that has romance at the center of it.
Laura Benanti: It''s like a confection, y''know it feels.
But afterwards you don''t feel like you want to lay down and take a nap, you feel like you want to eat more.
[Instrumental music and clapping]